For World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions’ Division of Securities has released its tips for seniors to avoid investment fraud.
Financial scams become more common and more sophisticated, and the department warns seniors have become prime targets for scammers who try to scare them into believing that their retirement savings is in peril due to volatile financial markets or global conflicts.
“Financial exploitation of seniors is a growing problem in Wisconsin, and we all need to work together to stop it,” the release states. “That is why, partnered with our colleagues at the Dane County APS, the Elder Rights Project at Legal Action of Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS), we recognize the importance of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day and share these important tips with you.”
To avoid investment fraud, the department recommends the following:
- Be wary of investment opportunities linked to the headlines. Delete unsolicited emails and social media messages offering investments with limited or no risk, or with significant or guaranteed returns.
- Beware of bitcoin and cryptocurrency investments advertised as “safe” or “guaranteed income.” These are volatile, high-risk assets that are not regulated by any government agency. They are also more susceptible to fraud and hacking than traditional investments.
- Do your homework. Ask questions! Understand what you are investing in.
- Find out if the person selling the investment is registered. Use BrokerCheck (brokercheck.finra.org) to do a quick online background check on a salesperson, or call us at the Division of Securities: (608) 266-2139.
To safeguard your own personal and financial information, the Division of Securities recommends keeping your operating systems on your phone and computer up-to-date, creating strong passwords for online accounts and using two-method verification where possible, checking your account statements and credit reports regularly, avoid clicking on links in texts or emails from people you don’t know, and to just be cautious sharing personal or financial information, especially online.
“In 2021 in Dane County alone, victims of financial exploitation lost over $2.4 million,” the release states. “The Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions’ Division of Securities opened approximately 103 cases in 2021 and issued 22 orders against 33 perpetrators of investment fraud, with over $500,000 in restitution and disgorgement ordered returned to investors. Senior victims can be found in at least one-third of those cases.”
If you believe you are a victim of investment fraud, report it right away to the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions’ Division of Securities by emailing DFISecurities@dfi.wisconsin.gov or calling (608) 266-2139.