Vermont Investor Education Campaign Launched
Workshops on Avoiding Scams to Take Place Statewide
Burlington, VT – The FINRA Investor Education Foundation, AARP Vermont, the Vermont Department of Banking Insurance, Securities and Health Care Administration (BISHCA) and the Vermont State Treasurer’s Office have launched a statewide campaign to protect seniors from the growing threat of investment-related cons and scams. Governor Jim Douglas was on hand along with Vermont State Treasurer Jeb Spaulding to kick off the initiative today at a press conference and educational forum for over 250 area residents. Also present was Vermont State Police Lt. Robert Kalinowski, who shared his family’s story of financial loss through investment fraud. The event was held at the Sheraton Burlington Conference Center in South Burlington.
Beginning this summer and continuing through the fall, the public education campaign will work to educate Vermont’s senior investors on the dangers of investor fraud. This research-based initiative is designed to change behaviors in the interest of protecting older Vermonters from investment fraud. The effort will center on delivering workshops in small and large venues across the state.
With the economy struggling and the stock market still depressed, consumer protection advocates have noted a marked increase in the number of investment-related scams. “Americans have lost more than $2 trillion of their retirement nest eggs, and now they’re desperate to get ready for retirement,” said John Gannon, President of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Foundation. “Unfortunately, that creates the perfect opportunity for scam-artists to pitch their too-good-to-be-true and get-rich-quick schemes.”
The investor protection campaign seeks to protect older investors from investment fraud by helping them to recognize that they are vulnerable to financial fraud. The workshops will help seniors identify common persuasion techniques used by fraudsters and protect themselves by asking the right questions and then checking those answers. The workshops focus on:
FINRA Foundation-funded research unveiled in July 2006 shattered the stereotypes of senior investment fraud victims. Not only was the fraud victim profile counterintuitive in many respects (for instance, victims were more financially knowledgeable than the general population), but the influence tactics used by fraudsters were sophisticated and highly effective. These findings forced regulators and senior advocates alike to rethink how best to approach the challenge of equipping older investors with the tools and information they need to thwart fraudsters touting investment scams.
In response, a research-based, social change campaign was designed to reduce the incidence of investment fraud among investors ages 55 and over. This year, it is being conducted in Vermont, Washington, Florida, Colorado and North Carolina and will be expanded into five additional states next year.
“AARP has a long history of working to protect consumers and we are very concerned about the prevalence of phone scams, online pitches and free investor luncheons and seminars that prey on older Vermonters,” said Greg Marchildon, AARP Vermont state director. “Our offices in a number of states are helping the FINRA Foundation in this effort with the assistance of volunteers and other partner organizations.”
The FINRA Investor Education Foundation is the largest foundation in the United States dedicated to investor education. Its mission is to provide investors with high-quality, easily accessible information and tools to better understand the markets and the basic principles of saving and investing.
AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization with 138,000 members in Vermont and 40 million members nationally. Through a wide array of special benefits, services and information resources, we help our members make important choices, reach their goals and dreams and make the most of life after 50.