November 27, 2007

Investment Warning "Seniors Targeted"

This past September, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) held their second Senior Summit in Washington D.C. The focus and purpose of this summit was to determine ways to protect older Americans from abusive sales practices and investment fraud.”

It is estimated that more than 10,000 Americans are turning 60 every day – and the net worth of these seniors is growing. Seniors have now become a target for dishonest professional licensed individuals, as well as the community scam artist.

In a recent survey of seniors: “55% of the surveys responding to losing money on an investment, 19% attribute their loss to being mislead or sales fraud”, says Mary Schapiro, Chief Executive Officer, FINRA*. She also commented that this problem will continue to grow and FINRA plans to step up enforcement. This announcement resulted in a National Compliance Alert distributed to Broker Dealer firms and their sales force across the country.

Potential “red flag” warnings include the increasing use of: Several “senior marketing concerns” identified included:
1. “Free lunch seminars”
2. “Inflated or meaningless professional titles by advisers”
3. “Deceptive early retirement seminars”
4. “The sale of variable life settlements”

Before turning your hard earned money over to anyone, 1) Know your adviser. Meet with him / her (preferably in their office) 2) Check their credentials 3) Ask for referrals of past clients 4) Fully understand what you are being asked to buy 5) Don’t feel pressured. If proper planning is being done, this advice will most likely be good tomorrow and next month. 6) Get a second opinion. Take your sales person’s recommendations to your trusted CPA or Attorney. Last and most important, if you have a bad “gut feeling” or “it seems too good to be true” – stop and run the other way.

There are many qualified financial advisors available to assist you in properly planning your investments, future retirement planning and insurance needs. Relevant industry designations include; CFP = Certified Financial Planner, Chfc = Chartered Financial Consultant and CLU = Chartered Life Underwriter. These individuals attend classes and must pass a series of difficult tests to become certified.

Good luck and safe investing to all.

*Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), is the largest non-governmental regulator for all securities firms doing business in the United States. All told, FINRA oversees nearly 5,100 brokerage firms, about 174,000 branch offices and more than 675,000 registered securities representatives. Created in July 2007 through the consolidation of NASD and the member regulation, enforcement and arbitration functions of the New York Stock Exchange, FINRA is dedicated to investor protection and market integrity through effective and efficient regulation and complementary compliance and technology-based services. (FINRA)