We’ve all heard at least one story about an investor who put money into something that was supposed to be the “next best thing,” maybe even with a “guaranteed return.” Unfortunately, that “next big thing” turned out to be fraudulent. As we at Silver Law Group have reported on our many blogs, senior investors have been particular targets of such blatant fraudulence. In some cases, these investors are bankrupted, and their years of lost savings and careful investments have left them dependent on Social Security.
Elder abuse is one of the most under-reported crimes in the US. One significant part of elder abuse is the financial exploitation of vulnerable adults, particularly one with cognitive issues or deficiencies. As the US population, particularly baby boomers, continues to age, the financial industry is becoming more aware of the potential of fraud, financial exploitation, and deception at the expense of retirees and senior citizens.
Brokers, transfer agents and financial advisors are sometimes the first individuals to notice inconsistencies that could indicate that a senior investor may be the target of fraud or other financial deceptions. Financial services professionals are may see something that looks to be exploitation or fraud, but are hesitant about reporting anything for fear of violating privacy requirements. Now, they can act upon their concerns with immunity to protect their senior clients in the event of a problem.
The Senior Safe Act
Enacted into federal law on May 24, 2018, the act protects financial industry professionals as well as their employees who have concerns about senior clients. A year later, the SEC, FINRA and the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) have published a fact sheet to provide information to investment advisors, broker-dealers, transfer agents, and others who are in the position to detect financial exploitation.
These fact sheets are available free online for anyone who is interested in knowing more. Download them from the SEC’s website, FINRA’s website, or NASAA’s Serve Our Seniors website. Under the Senior Safe Act, professionals and employees are given immunity from either civil or administrative liability when reporting a possible exploitation to a covered agency. However, that liability is predicated on the individuals receiving formal training on identifying and reporting potential exploitation against a senior prior to making a formal report.
Firms are encouraged to provide this training to properly identify and report suspected exploitive, fraudulent or outright criminal activity committed against a senior investor. This immunity applies to both individuals and firms, and includes other employees who have access to an individual’s financial information.
Ask Before You Invest
No matter what your age or who you choose to invest with, it’s always important to ask questions about any potential investments that you’re considering. From traditional stocks, bonds, and other financial products to popular up-and-coming things like “pot stocks,” it’s up to the investor to not only review an investment, but the investment professional who you’ll be trusting with your money. You can use FINRA’s free online tool BrokerCheck to investigate any financial services professional before investing money with them.
The FBI also offers information on frauds and scams that are committed against individuals over 50 and senior citizens. Investor.gov also has a page that discusses financial service with a “senior specialist” designation.
We Can Help
Silver Law Group represents investors in securities and investment fraud cases. Our lawyers are admitted to practice in New York and Florida and represent investors nationwide to help recover investment losses due to stockbroker misconduct. If you have any questions about how your account has been handled, call to speak with an experienced securities attorney. Most cases are handled on a contingent fee basis, meaning that you won’t owe us until we recover your money for you. Contact us today and let us know how we can help.