How Older Investors Can Avoid Financial Scams

Via WTTW Public Television:

Earlier this year, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission brought cases against several Midwestern investment professionals for scamming senior clients out of millions of dollars. In some cases, the clients were suffering from dementia and those charged had been their trusted investment advisors for years.  According to Joel Levin, director of the SEC’s Chicago regional office, it’s estimated that financial exploitation of seniors may cost as much as $3 billion every year. “It’s a big problem,” he said.  “Seniors generally have greater accumulated savings than other people – they’ve had more years to accumulate those savings – so they have more at stake and it makes them more likely to be victims of different kinds of investment scams,” Levin said. “But in addition, in many instances where you see this sort of victimization, the senior investors may be suffering from mental or physical impairments that make it more of a challenge for them to make wise investment decisions and to monitor the investments that they have.”  Levin says that while older investors can be particularly vulnerable to this kind of financial exploitation, there are ways they can protect themselves. He shares 10 tips for avoiding financial fraud, including a recommendation to not go on autopilot with your investments – a tip for everyone, he says, not just seniors.  “Whatever you invest in, you really need to monitor it,” he said. “That doesn’t necessarily mean looking at the stock market every day or even every week. But when you invest, you can’t put anything on autopilot. You need to continue to be vigilant, to look at your statements, and if there are transfers or withdrawals or things that you don’t understand, you need to follow up and find out what’s going on.”

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