“Some financial professionals use designations that imply that they are experts at helping seniors with financial issues,” the Securities and Exchange Commission website cautions. “Many seniors, however, don’t understand the sets of initials that may follow the names of these financial professionals or the meaning of the titles – such as “senior specialist” or “retirement advisor” – they use to market themselves.” Often these titles don’t require any specific study or experience.
As estate planning attorneys at Geyer Law, we often deal with seniors, and are always chagrined to learn about the suffering scammers cause to their victims.
It’s not only the SEC that is concerned about the increasing number and types of scams targeting senior investors. The North American Securities Corporation’s ServeOurSeniors.org website tells seniors, “You’ve worked hard throughout your lifetime to build retirement security. As your first line of defense against investment fraud, NASAA members know scam artists will try to prey on seniors by offering ‘too good to be true’ investment schemes. Education and awareness are your best weapons in the fight against investment fraud.”
NASAA offers a checklist of questions seniors should post to anyone attempting to sell them an investment product of any kind:
- What products are you offering?
- Who regulates or licenses this product or service?
- How does this product meet my investment objectives?
- What are the risks?
- What written information will I receive about this investment before making a decision?
- What license(s) do you hold that authorize you to sell this product or service?
FINRA (the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority) views the protection of senior investors, as well as baby boomers who are retired or approaching retirement, as a top priority, because a large number of American investors are approaching retirement and control a substantial portion of investment assets. “Even if you have never been subjected to an investment fraudster’s sales pitch, you probably know someone who has. The more you know about the types of fraud and tactics used the better equipped you’ll be to avoid it,” FINRA warns.
“Stranger danger” seems to be all around us. In fact, at Geyer & Associates, we think protecting ourselves – and our aging parents – from scams has become a vital element in estate planning! If you have questions or concerns about protecting yourself or a loved one, or how to address a fraud you discover, please contact our office.