Top 5 Tips For Protecting Yourself Against Investment Fraud

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A down economy can inflict panic in people from all walks of life. Scam artists are professionals at exploiting these feelings of fear and uneasiness, persuading otherwise financially sophisticated individuals to participate in unrealistic, deceptive investment opportunities.

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  • 1. Top 5 Tips for Protecting Yourself Against Investment Fraud
    A down economy can inflict panic in people from all walks of life. Scam artists are professionals at exploiting these feelings of fear and uneasiness, persuading otherwise financially sophisticated individuals to participate in unrealistic, deceptive investment opportunities. Bernie Madoffs recent $50 billion Ponzi scheme has heightened our awareness of investment scams, placing a much-needed spotlight on the thousands of other con artists searching for those seeking a quick way to recover losses. Scams can take on many different forms, but there are ways to protect yourself against investment fraud. The Asset Advisory Groups Jeanette Jones offers her top five tips. 1. Beware of investment opportunities that claim guaranteed returns. No legitimate financial advisor will ever promise a risk-free investment. Periods of high financial stress often bring out scammers who promise miracle money strategies. There is no such thing as a secret guaranteed trading strategy if you hear these words, insist that you see proof of the investors success. Also, be cautious of special access investments. Though no one is quite sure exactly how Madoffs Ponzi scheme operated fully, we do know that the plot relied heavily on secrecy and exclusivity. When working with a financial planner or firm, transparency and accountability are key. 2. If it sounds too good to be true, walk away. Investment scammers are smart. They understand that after suffering huge losses in 2008, many people are feeling frantic desperate to earn back money and regain a sense of control over their investment portfolios. Sophisticated con artists prey on this anxiety, and many tailor each pitch toward the needs of a persons unique financial situation. Ask questions and demand to see previous results. Promises of high profits are tempting, but as they say, the proof is in the pudding. If any part of the business feels shady or is kept under tight wraps, move on. 3. Understand your investments. Many investment schemes seem alluring because theyre packaged in a complex manner designed to appeal to highly educated, often wealthy, investors. If the companys strategies or product offerings are so complicated that a normal person of normal financial literacy cannot comprehend them, they are probably fraudulent. A good rule of thumb - invest only in what you fully understand. Legitimate professionals will be able to explain their investment approach in great detail, including the risks and how the investment will make you money. Even after you engage with an investment firm, be adamant in your requests to see regular written reports and explanations. This will keep the lines of communication open and provide an avenue for accountability. 4. Perform a background check. A legitimate investment firm will be properly licensed or registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) or a state securities regulator, depending on the type of business. Make sure the investment advisor or broker has not had any previous disputes with regulators or other investors. Request audited financial statements for the organization, which should provide an independent, trustworthy outlook of the investment operation. 5. Dont fall for high-pressure tactics. No reputable financial advisor will rush you into making a quick investment decision. Take the time to do your own investigating. If the opportunity is legitimate, there should be a plethora of information regarding the recommended investment or fund. If not, run in the opposite direction. With the recent surge of devastating investment fraud cases, it is best to play it safe and steer clear of any opportunity that is waving big red flags (or even small ones).
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