Have a feeling you're being scammed? These tips can help you avoid fraud and keep your investments safe.
1. Never provide personal or financial information to someone you do not know.
Do not give out personal information to any investment professional until you have done your researchand have decided to make an investment. Be especially wary of cold calls or unsolicited mail.
2. Take your time.
Never make a snap decision when it comes to investing. Good investment opportunities will still be here tomorrow. Anyone who tries to rush you into a "Get Rich Quick" offer doesn't deserve your trust, or your money.
3. Ask questions.
Find out as much information as you can about the product, the person selling it, and the firm or company they represent. Then be sure to verify the information.
4. Do your homework.
Never rely solely on the salesperson's word. Investigate any investment yourself through independent sources such as the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions.
5. Be wary of offers or professional services that are "free of charge."
It may sound cliché', but it's true. There's no such thing as a free lunch.
6. Consider, compare and consult.
Consider all your options, compare products and consult with someone you trust before making investment decisions.
7. Invest only in products and strategies that you fully understand.
Don't feel intimidated by investment professionals, or afraid to ask plenty of questions. Remember, it's your money.
8. Have a plan for terminating telephone calls.
People get trapped in sales situations on the phone or in-person if they do not know how to take charge of the situation. Your refusal script can be something as simple as, "I'm sorry; this is not a good time. Thank you for calling. Goodbye."
9. Report investment fraud to regulators.
If you have a problem, file a written complaint with the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions or fill out their online complaint form at www.dfi.wa.gov
10. Share information.
Now that you know about wise and safe investing practices, share this information with your family and friends.
You can sign up for the Fraud Watch Network at www.aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork or by calling 800-646-2283. By joining the Fraud Watch Network, you'll receive alerts and notifications about new scams as they emerge.
File a consumer complaint with the Attorney General's Office at www.atg.wa.gov.