As the largest segment of our population ages, and especially as Baby Boomers increasingly head into retirement, unfortunately scams run by so-called senior, retired, or elder experts will become more and more prevalent. Already they have grown so common that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the SEC, and FINRA’s Investor Education Foundation have issued reports that highlight dangers now facing retirees and aging investors.
Certified Elder Investment Professionals
We tend to be impressed by degrees and titles. We put faith in them. Seeing M.D. or Esq. or D.D.S. or Ph.D. at the end of someone’s name confers authority. We feel reassured and expect that person to be a properly trained and certified professional who possesses expertise in their particular field. But what about a Certified Elder Planning Specialist? Or how about Register Senior Investment Advisor? Or Certified Senior Investment Planner?
In case you haven’t already guessed, these are all examples of bogus, lightweight, or jumped-up titles. They are designed to mislead aging investors into believing that the people holding those titles are bona fide experts. In fact, just about anyone who spends a few hours taking a “certification course” can claim they’re a “certified expert.” Such spurious claims are against the law in most US states. In New Jersey, for instance, according to the state’s Division of Consumer Affairs:
The law prohibits the use of senior-specialization designations by any person who lacks certification from an accrediting organization. This law makes clear that using a phony senior-specific designation that falsely implies some financial expertise in the investment needs of our elderly investors is against the law.
Protect Yourself Against Fake Investment Senior Specialists
Fraud follows money, and right now, the vast majority of the wealth in our country is in the hands of our elderly or aging population. Unscrupulous brokers, financial advisors, or just plain hucksters masquerading as financial professionals know this, and they have increasingly resorted to predatory marketing to attract that money to them in order to make it their own. Phony designations are not just misleading, however. They help convince seniors to let their guards down. Once that happens, fraudsters may invest their clients in products that are unsuitable for them, containing excessive risks that reward the broker through high commissions.
Before you or a loved one engages with a so-called expert in senior-specific investing or wealth management, check FINRA’s website for more information on designations by clicking here. And if you’d like to do a “background check” on the broker him- or herself, try FINRA’s BrokerCheck.
If you or anyone you know has been the victim of broker misconduct or investment fraud, please contact our securities attorneys immediately at 1-855-462-3330 or via email by clicking here.