News Release

FINRA Warns Investors About Compromising Important Assets in Uncertain Economic Times

Washington, DC — Mary Schapiro, CEO of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), expressed deep concern today that some investors may be trying to cope with rocky economic conditions by putting their most valuable assets at risk in an effort to raise cash quickly.

Schapiro expressed that concern in a speech to the Women in Housing and Finance in Washington, DC. FINRA simultaneously released a new Investor Alert, Weathering Tough Financial Times-The Long-term Costs of Quick Cash, both to caution investors about endangering their home, their retirement savings or their life insurance and to offer tips for maintaining financial stability.

"Rising fuel and food prices, declines in the housing market, volatility in the financial markets, an ever-tightening credit crunch - they're all creating unexpected financial challenges for many Americans," Schapiro said. "But tough financial times don't necessarily justify resorting to risky ways to make ends meet."

Troubling trends include individuals borrowing from or prematurely depleting their retirement savings, especially through the relatively new 401(k) Debit Cards; selling their life insurance policies at a discount in transactions known as "life settlements," and tapping into their home equity through reverse mortgages.

"Each of these should be considered strategies of last resort," Schapiro said. "They may raise cash quickly, but each also carries long-term consequences that can undermine financial security in retirement and pose the potential for losing a significant, and sometimes irreplaceable, asset."

To learn more about risky investment decisions that may appear tempting in unsteady economic times, see the FINRA Investor Alerts 401(k) Debit Cards - Think Before You Swipe; Think Twice Before Cashing Out Your 401(k); Look Before You Leave: Don't Be Misled By Early Retirement Investment Pitches That Promise Too Much; Seniors Beware: What You Should Know About Life Settlements; Reverse Mortgages: Avoiding a Reversal of Fortune, and Smart 401(k) Investing.

To receive FINRA's Investor Alerts and other important investor information via email, sign up for FINRA's Investor News.

FINRA, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, is the largest non-governmental regulator for all securities firms doing business in the United States. Created in 2007 through the consolidation of NASD and NYSE Member Regulation, FINRA is dedicated to investor protection and market integrity through effective and efficient regulation and complementary compliance and technology-based services. FINRA touches virtually every aspect of the securities business-from registering and educating all industry participants to examining securities firms; writing and enforcing rules and the federal securities laws; informing and educating the investing public; providing trade reporting and other industry utilities; and administering the largest dispute resolution forum for investors and registered firms. For more information, please visit our Web site at