New survey bites back at 'free lunch' seminar scams

Consumer Reports News: November 12, 2009 12:10 PM

I don't know about you, but whenever I get one of those "free" lunch or dinner invites in the mail from some financial services outfit, I can't throw it away fast enough. Sometimes I want to use tongs.

But lots of people apparently take up the offer. Some 6 million Americans have attended one of these cringe-worthy events in the past three years, according to AARP and the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA). 

Typically billed as educational seminars, the lunches and dinners often tend to be little more than sales pitches for inappropriate, high-commission products—or worse.  A joint survey released today by AARP and NASAA reports that 40 percent of respondents who attended one (all Americans 55 and older) said the presenter tried to sell them something during or after the seminar. And it doesn't end with dessert: 46 percent said the presenter tried to make a follow-up appointment at their home.

If you or anybody you know are ever tempted to take up a free-meal offer, here's some food for thought: 

Greg writes the "Retirement Guy" column each month in the Consumer Reports Money Adviser newsletter.

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