TDCI: ‘Free Meal’ Seminars May Come with a CostEvents Offer Free Meals, Advice to Sell Financial or Insurance Products
NASHVILLE – While the offer of free meals, door prizes, or free advice may lead you to attend a seminar when you wouldn’t otherwise, the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance (TDCI) is reminding consumers that many insurance and financial firms contact middle-aged and older adults or host free meal seminars with the goal of selling insurance and financial products or services.
“The offer to have a meal at an expensive restaurant while learning about insurance or investment products may sound enticing, but it’s important to ask yourself what the host is getting out of the event before committing to attend,” said TDCI Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak. “It’s important to do your homework so that you go to the event prepared. Always remember: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
To help consumers protect themselves, TDCI’s Securities & Insurance Divisions offer the following tips for seminar goers:
- There is always a purpose to “free” seminars. Carefully read all forms before giving out your personal information because that information will likely be used to market products and services to you.
- Review credentials closely. Some individuals will exaggerate credentials to suggest a certain amount of expertise.
- Beware of companies or brokers who claim to endorsed by celebrities or regulating organizations. Remember: Entities like TDCI, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA), and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) do not endorse any particular company, broker, or product.
TAKE YOUR TIME
- Never make final decisions at a seminar. Some seminars expose attendees to high-pressure tactics, frightening stories about people who don’t have enough money to live on in retirement, and promises of unrealistic returns.
- Before you go to the seminar, decide that you won’t give out any personal information, sign any documents, or make any decisions while you’re there.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Never purchase or invest in something you don’t understand.
WE’RE HERE TO HELP
- Anyone can find themselves as the victim of fraud or scams. Don’t let embarrassment or fear keep you from asking for help. If you believe you’ve been misled or sold a product that wasn’t right for you, you can file a complaint with TDCI.