New Orleans financial fraud attorney Joseph Peiffer pegs that a minimum of $100 million was returned to elderly investors in the US after a barrage of complaints, lawsuits, and arbitrations were managed by the SEC. Lori Schock, an Investor Education and Advocacy head from SEC, says that prior to investing, individuals need to verify two basic things: that the firm, company, or individual is licensed to sell investment products; and that the products up for sale are registered – if they aren’t, people are advised to look elsewhere for opportunities.
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, also known as FINRA, operates BrokerCheck – a tool that can help the prospective investor check on individuals or firms that sell securities. Find it at finra.org/investors/ToolsCalculators/BrokerCheck. Investors can also go to the SEC site that helps educate investors at sec.gov/investor/brokers.htm.
Consumers can also check if a company or insurance agent they wish to work with is licensed by contacting the department for insurance in their own states. You can find these departments through a map put up by the North American Securities Administrators Association at nasaa.org. You can click on a state in the map to get contact details for group members.
Florida, which has around 3 million senior residents aged 65 and up, has also been targeted by agents or representatives who use the “free lunch” approach, wherein the combination of free food and investment advice is used to rein in prospective clients or investors. Regulators across the country have called for the prohibition of this approach, Florida CFO Alex Sink says.
Ms, Sink, who confirmed that the “free lunch” is often used by promoters all over the state, says that these have been attractive to and commonly encountered by low to middle-income retirees and seniors. She has also been lobbying to make peddling these problematic investment products a felony, specifically, the “egregious examples” of these sales.
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