TDCI Securities Division Offers Self-Defense Tips for Senior Investors

Wednesday, April 13, 2016 | 11:58am

NASHVILLE – With recent news of scam artists preying on seniors, the Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance’s (TDCI) Securities Division is renewing its call to older investors to stay informed to avoid financial exploitation.

“Unfortunately, senior investors are top targets for con artists,” said TDCI Assistant Commissioner for Securities Frank Borger-Gilligan. “The good news is that you can take control and protect yourself from becoming a victim of securities fraud. Knowledge and diligence are key components to thwarting scammers.”

The Tennessee Securities Division encourages older investors to utilize these tips to keep scam artists away from your nest egg:

1. Don’t be a courtesy victim. Con artists will not hesitate to exploit your good manners. When a stranger asks for your money, you should proceed with the utmost caution. You are under absolutely no obligation to stay on the phone with a stranger or allow them in your home. Save your good manners for friends and family members, not strangers whose only real interest is to get his or her hands on your money.

2. Say “no” to investment professionals or con artists who press you to make an immediate decision. Before investing, check out the salesperson, firm and the investment opportunity itself. Extensive background information on investment salespeople and firms is available by contacting the Tennessee Securities Division.  Almost all investment opportunities must be registered for sale in the state in which you live. Your state securities agency can tell you if the investment opportunity is properly registered.  Before you part with your hard-earned savings, get written information about the investment opportunity, review it carefully, and make sure that you understand all the risks involved.

3. Always stay in charge of your money. Beware of anyone who suggests investing your money into something you don’t understand or who urges that you leave everything in his or her hands. Take the time to educate yourself or involve a family member or a professional, such as your banker, before trusting a stranger who wants you to turn over your money and then sit back and wait for results.

4. Watch out for salespeople that prey on your fears.  Con artists know you worry about either outliving your savings or seeing all of your financial resources vanish overnight as the result of a catastrophic event, such as a costly hospitalization. Fear can cloud your good judgment. An investment that is right for you will make sense because you understand it and feel comfortable with the risk involved.

5. Don't let embarrassment or fear keep you from reporting investment fraud or abuse. Con artists know that you might hesitate to report that you have been victimized in financial schemes out of embarrassment or fear. 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.

6. Beware of "reload" scams. Younger victims who are ripped off by swindlers have time to pick themselves up and restore some or all of their losses through new earnings. Older victims have a finite amount of money that is unlikely to be replenished in the event of fraud. The result is a panic that is well known to con artists who have developed schemes to take a "second bite" out of senior citizens who already have been victimized. Faced with a loss of funds, some senior citizens will go along with another scheme in which the con artists promise to make good on the original funds that were lost, and possibly even generate new returns beyond those originally promised.  When a significant loss occurs, call the Tennessee Securities Division to check out the person who invested your money before investing any more.

For more information about how you can protect yourself from investment fraud, contact the Tennessee Securities Division at 1-800-863-9117 or visit our website