Senior Investors Most Vulnerable to Financial Fraud
With the economy on a rocky footing, the climate is right for investment scams. These scams can impact investors of all ages, but those hit hardest are the seniors. Often isolated and suffering a diminishing capacity to discern truth from lies, elderly investors are particularly vulnerable to clever investment scams that promise high returns for low or no risk.
The Better Business Bureau and FINRA, the financial industry regulatory agency, have issued several warnings recently about the targeting of older investors by increasingly complex investment scams involving impersonations of FINRA officials, unregistered securities, promissory notes, charitable gift annuities, Ponzi schemes, and other exotic or phony products.
Scam Artists Prey on Elderly Victims
Scammers know that seniors who are living on fixed incomes and have little chance of increasing their earnings may be tempted by the “too good to be true” promises that come their way through the internet, phone, and mail.
In order to avoid by taken in by a financial opportunist, FINRA and the BBB offer the following tips:
Opportunists who commit these scams know that seniors and others living on fixed incomes may have taken a hit in past years. Their products and pitches sound tempting to many seniors who may have seen their retirement nest egg dwindle.
Seniors, however, can educate themselves to avoid being taken. The Better Business Bureau, along with FINRA offers the following tips:
Tips to Avoid Getting Financially Scammed
Don’t be afraid to hang up. It is not impolite to hang up on a con artist. They will not hesitate to exploit your good manners.
Check out strangers touting too good to be true deals. Trusting strangers is a mistake anyone can make when it comes to their personal finances. Extensive information on investment salespeople and firms is always available by checking with the Securities Division for your state or also by using FINRA’s BrokerCheck (brokercheck.finra.org).
Always stay in charge of your money. Beware of anyone who suggests putting your money into something you do not understand or who urges that you leave everything in his or her hands. Be extremely skeptical.
Do not judge a book by its cover. Successful con artists sound and look extremely professional and have the ability to make even the flimsiest investment deal sound as safe and sound as putting money in the bank. The sound of a voice, particularly on the phone, has no bearing on the soundness of an investment opportunity.
Watch out for salespeople who prey on your fears. Con artists know that you worry about outliving your savings. Don’t let fear cloud your good judgment. An investment that is right for you will make sense because you understand it and feel comfortable with the risk involved.
Monitor your investments and ask questions. Do not compound the mistake of trusting an unscrupulous investment professional or a con artist by failing to keep an eye on the progress of your investment. Insist on regular written or oral reports. Look for signs of excessive or unauthorized trading of your funds. If you are stalled when you want to withdraw your principal or profits from an investment, consider that a red flag.
Do not let embarrassment or fear keep you from reporting investment fraud or abuse. Con artists know that you might hesitate to report that you have been victimized in financial schemes out of embarrassment or fear. Every day that you delay reporting fraud is one more day that the con artist is spending your money and finding new victims.
For more information on seniors and investments, contact FINRA’s Securities Helpline for Seniors toll free at 844-574-3577or visit their website at www.finra.org.
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If you or someone you know has been the victim of investment fraud or broker misconduct, please contact our attorneys immediately for a free consultation at 215 462 3330 or by using our online contact form.