FINRA Securities Helpline for Seniors Marks First Year, With $1.3 Million Returned to Investors
Through FINRA Oversight, Seniors Have Obtained Voluntary Reimbursements From Firms
WASHINGTON - The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) today marks the one-year anniversary of the FINRA Securities Helpline for Seniors 1-844-57-HELPS (1-844-574-3577). To date, the helpline has fielded more than 4,200 calls, recovering over $1.3 million in voluntary reimbursements from firms since its launch in April 2015. "Financial fraud is a problem, and seniors are the most vulnerable. Victims of fraud sometimes feel they have nowhere to go, or are embarrassed to reach out," said Susan Axelrod, FINRA Executive Vice President, Regulatory Operations. "We are very pleased that investors are using our free helpline and encourage seniors, or those caring for seniors, with investment-related questions to give us a call."
In 2014, retirement assets of those aged 65 to 74 were estimated at $3.5 trillion, making older Americans frequent targets for fraud.
FINRA Helpline callers have ranged in age from 22 to 100 years old, and staff has helped them recover funds or avoid becoming a victim of fraud. FINRA has used information learned from callers to issue real-time investor alerts on emerging scams and in certain instances, pursue enforcement.
If FINRA does not have jurisdiction, the helpline team will point the investor to the appropriate regulator or agency. To date, FINRA has referred more than 200 matters to state, federal and foreign regulators, and made more than 70 referrals to Adult Protective Services in 15 states under mandatory reporting laws.
FINRA also has created a printable reference guide outlining why and who should call, and what to expect when contacting the call center with issues about brokerage accounts, investments or other fraud-related concerns.
"We've found it can be difficult for families and friends to talk to seniors about financial management, so we've created a guide to kick-start the conversation and for seniors to keep as a handy reference," added Axelrod.
FINRA also offers helpful tips on using BrokerCheck before investing, and guidance on how to navigate the transfer of an account after the death of a family member. Investors can check the background of an investment professional by using BrokerCheck for free at http://brokercheck.finra.org or at (800) 289-9999.