We want to empower you to spot the signs of a financial scam, recognize scammer behaviors, and know where to go to verify legitimate investment professionals. We know prevention is key—by sharing stories and information with friends and loved ones, everyone is less likely to fall victim to a fraudster. Investment scams in particular can have long-lasting consequences; they are the second most risky scam in our annual Risk Report and can result in the loss of one’s life savings for retirement.

Fight back by learning more and attending one of our in-person workshops.

 

Learn how to spot financial scams

“If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” It's great advice that is not always easy to follow.

Fraudsters are experts in getting you to believe in them and what they are selling. They are master manipulators and will often spend lots of time developing a relationship with you just to lower your defenses. Often with investment scams, the con artist will take time to get to know you—your interests, your family, and your goals for the future. They’ll use false promises to lure you in and make you believe they can help you “get rich quick” or even find an enticingly low-risk, high-return investment.

While these scammers are master chameleons and may change up their pitch, they use the same types of persuasion tactics we call the Red Flags of Fraud:

Source: FINRA Investor Education Foundation

It's important to remember that scammers play on your emotions and may rush you to a decision. Never take the bait. Take a moment to think before you act, and always verify an investment seller's credentials to make sure they are registered with FINRA, the SEC and/or a state securities regulator.

Learn more about how to spot and avoid fraud, and check out the Fighting Fraud 101 brochure.

Verify brokers and investment opportunities

You work hard to earn money and invest for the future. Steer clear of fraud and other problems that stand in the way of financial security. Learn what to ask when approached to buy an investment, and how to check if both the seller and the product are registered. With very few exceptions, people who provide investment advice or sell investment products must be registered with FINRA, the SEC and/or state securities regulators. Always remember to “Ask and Check.”

Canadian consumers have a similar resource for verifying registration. Check out the IIROC AdvisorReport

Have you or someone you know been a victim of an investment scam?
Report fraud to FINRA, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority at 202-728-6964, or call the FINRA Securities Helpline for Seniors at 844-57-HELPS (844-574-3577).
We also hope you'll consider sharing your story to help others on
BBB Scam Tracker.

 

More about our in-person workshops

Better Business Bureaus across the U.S. offer workshops as part of a national Fighting Financial Fraud program. BBBs provide workshops on Outsmarting Investment Fraud, Spot the Con, and The Red Flags of Fraud. These workshops are a hands-on, interactive way to learn more about financial fraud, how to spot scams and potential scammers, and how to ask questions and verify if an investment professional is registered.

Contact your local BBB to set up a workshop in your area, and email Institute [at] Council.BBB.org for more information about this national effort.

 

About FINRA Investor Education Foundation

BBB Institute is proud to bring you this program in partnership with the FINRA Investor Education Foundation. 

FINRA, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, is dedicated to investor protection and market integrity. It regulates one critical part of the securities industry — brokerage firms doing business with the public in the United States. FINRA believes investor education is often the best form of investor protection.

Established in 2003 by FINRA, the FINRA Investor Education Foundation empowers underserved Americans with the knowledge, skills and tools to make sound financial decisions throughout life. With easy-to-use tools and resources, the FINRA Foundation helps you make informed financial decisions — and arms you with the information you need to protect yourself from investment fraud.

FINRA and the FINRA Investor Education Foundation do not sell investment products, promote products or firms, or offer specific investment advice. For more information, please visit the FINRA Foundation's SaveAndInvest.org and consider signing up for FINRA's Alert Investor newsletter.