Did you know that an estimated 75 percent of the nation's consumer wealth is held by people age 50 and over? Scammers do, and that's why senior investors are some of their most frequent targets.
The Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance's (TDCI) Securities Division has amped up statewide outreach efforts to equip senior consumers with the knowledge they need to protect their assets from fraud.
"Scammers are always creating new ways to con people out of their hard-earned money," said TDCI Assistant Commissioner for Securities Frank Borger-Gilligan. "Our staff has hit the road and is visiting communities across the state to educate Tennessee seniors on how to protect their nest egg from the latest scam tactics."
Members of the Securities Division staff, which includes fraud investigators from the TDCI Financial Services Investigations Unit, conducted 26 investor education events statewide in 2016 - the team aims to reach even more seniors in 2017.
The Securities Division uses outreach presentations to teach seniors the warning signs of fraud by highlighting common phrases and schemes to be aware of. The team encourages seniors to be mindful of the amount of personal information they provide to strangers face-to-face, over the phone, and online. Seniors are cautioned against giving out their credit card number to unknown sources, giving multiple people and places their email address, birthdate, telephone, and social security number, and signing up for online advertisements and other local apps that seek too much personal information.
"Many of the seniors we talk to thank us for educating them on the warning signs of fraud that they did not know of," said TDCI Fraud Investigator Troy Corder. "They share personal events that have happened to them and are able to ask us for advice on what to do should these events take place again. This open discussion is important as it educates the audience while also letting them know that they are not alone in having fallen victim to professional con artists."
TDCI offers the following tips that senior investors should always consider asking before making an investment:
When a stranger asks for money, proceed with caution. Swindlers will exploit your good manners.
Say "no" to any investment professional who presses you to make an immediate decision.
Before you invest, make sure your investment adviser is licensed. Extensive background information is available by contacting TDCI's Securities Division.
Beware of salespeople who prey upon your fears. Fear can blind your good judgment. Only invest when you have all the facts and feel comfortable.
Don't let embarrassment prevent you from reporting fraud or abuse. Every day that you delay reporting fraud or abuse is one more day that the con artist is spending your money and finding new victims.
If you are interested in booking the Tennessee Securities Division for your group's next educational event, contact the Division at 615-741-2947. Additional investor education information is also available through our website: https://www.tn.gov/commerce/section/securities.
If you suspect that you might be a victim of securities or insurance fraud, or if you would like to file a complaint or speak with an investigator, please contact the Tennessee Securities Division - Financial Services Investigations Unit at (615) 741-5900. To file a complaint online, visit /commerce/article/securities-file-a-complaint