Three Simple Methods for Protecting Your Investments

As the familiar adage goes, the higher the risk, the higher the reward. Of course, when it comes to investment strategies, risk is often one characteristic around which you can make informed decisions to mitigate or embrace, depending on your level of risk tolerance.

Yet there is one investment risk – the risk of fraud – which at first glance seems uniquely difficult to mitigate. Fortunately, there are indeed several steps investors can take to protect their hard earned investment dollars from fraud.

In the United States, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”) each offer investor resources for reducing the risk of investment fraud.

FINRA advises investors to follow three specific steps to avoid fraudulent schemes: staying informed about ongoing scams, thoroughly vetting the background of any investment opportunity or professional an investor chooses to engage with and keeping current with common tactics employed by fraudsters. [1]

Stay Informed With Investor Alerts

Importantly, both the SEC and FINRA issue periodic “investor alerts” which explain recent fraudulent investment schemes toward which investors should exercise caution. Investor alerts from the SEC can be found here, and investor alerts from FINRA can be found here.

Vet the Investment Opportunity

investors should also thoroughly vet the background and credentials of any investment opportunity or professional they choose to engage with [1]

When it comes to vetting the background of investment professionals, FINRA first recommends directly asking whether the individual is licensed to sell the investment. [2] FINRA and the SEC also both offer online resources to help confirm whether the professional is indeed registered as required under law. [2]

These resources include repositories listing the financial professionals who are registered with federal and/or state agencies, as well as resources which indicate whether the individual has engaged in known fraudulent acts in the past. [2] Investors can also use these resources to determine whether the investment they are considering is registered with the SEC. A one-stop shop for each of these free resources can be found here.

Keep Up to Date on Common Fraudulent Tactics

Finally, a third helpful strategy for keeping hard earned investment dollars safes is staying aware of common investment fraud schemes along with “red flags” that often signal fraudulent activity.

Investors should always keep in mind that if an investment opportunity seems “too good to be true,” then it likely is.

In particular, common red flags to be on the lookout for include mentions of guaranteed or overly consistent returns,  particularly complex investment strategies, and “pushy” salespeople. [3] Often, fraudsters will employ high-pressure sales tactics to present supposed investment opportunities as exciting ways to make large sums of money with comparably little effort required from the investor. [3]

Investors should also keep in mind that many investments are inherently risky. If a supposed investment professional advertises a new investment opportunity with no risk at all, or if any other red flags arise, it is likely time to dig deeper into the specifics of the investment opportunity.

Exercising careful attention to both the supposed processional and the investment they are offering is often the best strategy to protect investments avoid falling victim to a fraudulent investment scheme.







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