|October 9, 2013|
WASHINGTON—The National Center for Victims of Crime and the FINRA Investor Education Foundation have released Taking Action: An Advocate's Guide to Assisting Victims of Financial Fraud to provide those who serve the more than 30 million Americans who are victims of financial fraud every year with an important new tool to aid their clients. This groundbreaking new guide is designed for consumer advocates, lawyers, counselors and other victim service providers.
Taking Action provides accessible, step-by-step strategies for addressing the major types of financial crime—including investment fraud, identity theft, mortgage and lending fraud, and mass-marketing scams. This new resource provides advocates with tools to assist victims in regaining their financial footing and address the emotional trauma experienced by victims of financial fraud. Taking Action is available for download or ordering from within the Program and Outreach Toolkit on the FINRA Foundation's SaveAndInvest.org website.
"While prevention strategies have an important role to play in addressing financial fraud," said FINRA Foundation President Gerri Walsh, "the increasing incidence of financial fraud has made more urgent the importance of consistent and accurate advice to victims."
Although financial fraud can strike people from all walks of life, older Americans and those on the brink of retirement are especially vulnerable. The FINRA Foundation's recent survey of nearly 2,400 U.S. adults age 40 and older—Financial Fraud and Fraud Susceptibility in the United States—revealed that over 80 percent of respondents have been solicited to participate in potentially fraudulent schemes, and over 40 percent of those surveyed cannot identify some classic "red flags" of fraud. Additionally, Americans age 65 and older are more likely to be targeted by fraudsters and more likely to lose money once targeted.
Financial fraud affects Americans in communities throughout the country and costs consumers billions of dollars a year. A report by the Financial Fraud Research Center—Scams, Schemes and Swindles: A Review of Consumer Financial Fraud Research—found that an estimated $40 billion to $50 billion of measurable, direct costs are lost to fraud annually.
"Taking Action represents not only an innovative collaboration between The National Center and the FINRA Foundation, but an important advancement in the victim services field," said Mai Fernandez, Executive Director of The National Center for Victims of Crime.
Fraud researchers typically find that a very small percentage of survey respondents self-report that they have been victims of financial fraud. In the FINRA Foundation's survey, a small group of respondents who admitted to investing in a fraudulent investment, but did not report the fraud, indicated that reporting it would not have made a difference, they did not know where to report it or they were too embarrassed. Taking Action was developed, in part, to help increase the number of victims who report fraud and get access to assistance.
The advocate's guide benefited from the input of a variety of stakeholders across the financial fraud field, resulting in an easy-to-use tool that helps advocates connect victims with resources for recovery. The National Center and the FINRA Foundation will continue to collaborate to train advocates and encourage networking with the goal of improving outcomes for victims of financial fraud.
About The National Center for Victims of Crime
The National Center for Victims of Crime, established in 1985, is the nation's leading resource and advocacy organization for crime victims and those who serve them. For more than 25 years, the National Center has led this nation's struggle to provide crime victims with the rights, protections, and services they need to rebuild their lives. For more information, visit www.victimsofcrime.org.
About FINRA Investor Education Foundation
The FINRA Investor Education Foundation supports innovative research and educational projects that give underserved Americans the knowledge, skills and tools necessary for financial success throughout life. For details about grant programs and other FINRA Foundation initiatives, visit www.finrafoundation.org. SaveAndInvest.org, a FINRA Foundation website, offers easy-to-use tools and information to help investors make sound financial decisions and protect themselves from investment fraud.