NASD Foundation Study Examines What Makes Elderly Susceptible to Investment Fraud
Washington, D.C.— The NASD Investor Education Foundation, in cooperation with WISE Senior Services and AARP Foundation, released a study today that looks at why certain elderly investors are more susceptible to investment fraud than others, exposes the various tactics used by criminals to exploit seniors and offers strategies to help seniors avoid becoming victims. The report - Off the Hook Again: Understanding Why the Elderly Are Victimized by Economic Fraud Crimes - was unveiled at the Securities and Exchange Commission's Seniors Summit in Washington, D.C.
"With the numerous financial scams that continue to evolve and the variety of fraud tactics being used, the NASD Investor Education Foundation is committed to expanding its investor education efforts to help seniors protect the assets they've worked a lifetime to acquire," said Robert R. Glauber, Chairman of the NASD Investor Education Foundation, who also serves as Chairman & CEO of NASD. "The research results dispel common myths about who's actually being targeted and offers effective strategies on how seniors can avoid these costly financial traps."
Researchers for the project analyzed undercover tapes of fraud pitches and surveyed victims and non-victims to determine how they differ. The researchers used their findings to develop practical messages to increase fraud awareness among seniors.
Some of the key research findings include:
- Investment fraud victims are more financially literate than non-victims;
- Investment fraud criminals use a wide array of different influence tactics—from friendship to fear and intimidation tactics—to defraud the victim;
- Fraud pitches are tailored to match the psychological needs of the victim;
- Investment fraud victims are more likely to listen to sales pitches;
- Investment fraud victims are more likely to rely on their own experience and knowledge when making investment decisions;
- Fraud victims experience more difficulties from negative life events than non-victims;
- Investment fraud victims are more optimistic about the future;
- Investment fraud and lottery victims dramatically under-report fraud.
"WISE Senior Services is proud to be part of this study with the NASD Investor Education Foundation and AARP Foundation," noted Grace Cheng Braun, President & CEO of WISE. "This research is very valuable in helping us to more effectively tailor our educational outreach to seniors regarding financial fraud."
Arguing that teaching investors only the nuts and bolts of investing is not enough, the report recommends expanding financial literacy and fraud prevention programs to include information about how persuasion tactics work. Other recommendations include encouraging seniors to report such crimes to securities regulators, conducting more research to test the efficacy of persuasion education and further studying resistance to persuasion in the context of "free seminar" settings where aggressive salespeople so often make their pitches.
To review an executive summary of the full report or to access an audio file of real-life fraud pitches, visit www.nasdfoundation.org. For more information about saving for retirement, investors can access NASD's online learning center about 401(k)s at www.nasd.com/investor. Investors will also find information in these NASD Investor Alerts online: Variable Annuities: Beyond the Hard Sell; Should You Exchange Your Life Insurance Policy?; Equity-Indexed Annuities-A Complex Choice; Should You Exchange Your Variable Annuity?; and Stock Spams and Scams.
Investors can obtain more information about, and the disciplinary record of, any NASD-registered broker or brokerage firm by using NASD's BrokerCheck. NASD makes BrokerCheck available at no charge to the public. In 2005, members of the public used this service to conduct more than 4.3 million searches for existing brokers or firms and requested more than 194,000 reports in cases where disclosable information existed on a broker or firm. Investors can link directly to BrokerCheck at www.nasdbrokercheck.com. Investors can also access this service by calling 1-800-289-9999.
The NASD Investor Education Foundation, established in 2003, supports innovative research and educational projects that give investors the tools they need to better understand the markets and the basic principles of financial planning. The Foundation has awarded more than $4.5 million in total to organizations for educational programs and research projects targeting the underserved segments of the population. For details about grant programs and other new initiatives of the Foundation, visit www.nasdfoundation.org.
NASD is the leading private-sector provider of financial regulatory services, dedicated to investor protection and market integrity through effective and efficient regulation. NASD believes that understanding should precede investing - and that education is often the best form of investor protection. NASD's broad range of investor education programs include Investor Alerts, brochures and online resource guides on such critical topics as mutual fund class shares and 401(k) and college savings plans. This information is distributed through its Web site, www.nasd.com, printed materials and Investor Forums.