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Protect Yourself from Financial Scams

“Of all the places he could have gone and of all the people he could have charmed, he had to walk into my life.”

No, that’s not the beginning of a novel but it could be a painful admonishment to yourself after you entrusted someone with your money that you met at a Free Lunch Seminar or your place of worship, your club house or other group organization only to discover – you were a victim of securities fraud.

There are troubling statistics that demonstrate older persons are the prime targets for being financially exploited especially considering 86% of individuals who are 65 or older say they manage personal finances themselves and half of seniors exhibit signs of current financial exploitation. Securities fraud victims often receive only pennies on the dollar. Scam artists spend the money. If you don’t investigate before investing, it is often too late.  

More than 7.3 million Americans over the age of 65 have been victim to financial fraud - one out of five. And, many could have prevented becoming victims if they heeded a few warning signs and called the state securities regulator.
The New Jersey Bureau of Securities (Bureau) under the Office of the Attorney General is the state securities regulator. They regulate the sale of securities to and from the State of New Jersey. The bureau protects investors by providing free information about investment scams and is available to listen and check on complaints.

If you ever made a large purchase such as a car or a home, you probably did some checking before handing over the money. Do the same with your investing.

Check before investing by calling for free background information on the person selling you the investment – a CRD report. It contains the agent’s work history, disciplinary actions, complaints filed, important telling information. The complaint history is valuable and can include complaints such as for trades conducted without the investor’s approval, unsuitable investments and or excessive trading costing you more money for commissions on unnecessary transactions and you learn how many complaints there are.

Consider – is the investment sold to you appropriate for your needs? And ask about fees, commissions and early withdrawal penalties. Be wary when calls are not being returned. If you don’t understand the explanation for funds missing from your account or other questionable transactions that you did not authorize, give the bureau a call. If you don’t understand financial decisions that someone else is making on your behalf, ask them – but ask the bureau, also. You are taking a step towards not losing your money to a sophisticated professional scam artist. Ask questions.

Call 1-866-I-Invest or 1-973-504-3615 and visit the New Jersey Bureau of Securities website for videos, investor booklets, safety tips and the top ten fraud list. Request a free CRD (background information).

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