Many scams could be avoided if consumers took two simple steps before acting: to ask and check.
Questions are empowering, and scammers often will shut down once you start asking them. However, it’s a good idea to not only ask questions, but to do your homework on their answers. Here are three examples of how to ask and check to help prevent financial exploitation:
A financial professional contacts you with a hot new investment opportunity. Ask the professional if he or his firm is registered with FINRA, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission or the state securities regulator. Also ask if the product is registered with an agency. Then check out the answer by contacting FINRA online at www.SaveandInvest.org or by calling the FINRA Securities Helpline for Seniors at 1-844-574-3577. You may also wish to contact the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission online at www.SEC.gov or by calling 1-800-732-0330; as well as the Colorado Division of Securities online at www.dora.colorado.gov/dos or by calling 1-888-295-7422.
A charity calls you out of the blue to solicit a donation. Ask the caller if the charity is registered with the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office and what percentage of your donation would go toward the services the charity provides. Then visit www.checkthecharity.com or www.give.org or call the Colorado Consumer Line at 800-222-4444 to see if their claims check out.
A salesperson comes to your front door with a deal you can’t refuse. Ask the salesperson for references, and call those references. Then contact an independent resource, such as your local Better Business Bureau, at www.bbb.org or 303-758-2100, to check out the salesperson’s company.
Remember to never give out your personal information or your money without asking and checking first!
If you believe you have been victimized by a scam or wish to report suspicious activity, please file a report here. You may also wish to contact AARP Foundation ElderWatch by calling 1-800-222-4444, telephone option 2.