A new informational tool has been released by the National Center for Victims of Crime and the FINRA Investor Education Foundation to help victims of financial fraud.
Taking Action: An Advocate’s Guide to Assisting Victims of Financial Fraud provides step-by-step strategies to address major types of financial crime, including investment fraud, identity theft, mortgage and lending fraud, and mass-marketing scams. The guide is available for download or can be ordered from within the Program and Outreach Toolkit on the FINRA Foundation’s SaveAndInvest.org Web site.
“While prevention strategies have an important role to play in addressing financial fraud, the increasing incidence of financial fraud has made more urgent the importance of consistent and accurate advice to victims,” said FINRA Foundation President Gerri Walsh in a statement.
Financial fraud strikes people from all walks of life, and older Americans are especially vulnerable. A recent survey from the FINRA Foundation of nearly 2,400 U.S. adults age 40 and older revealed that more than 80% of respondents had been solicited to participate in potentially fraudulent schemes, and more than 40% of those surveyed could not identify some classic “red flags” of fraud. Additionally, Americans age 65 and older are more likely to be targeted by fraudsters and more likely to lose money once targeted.
The financial effects of investment fraud are enormous, costing consumers billions of dollars every year. A report by the Financial Fraud Research Center – Scams, Schemes and Swindles: A Review of Consumer Financial Fraud Research – found that an estimated $40 billion to $50 billion of measurable, direct costs are lost to fraud annually.
“Taking Action represents not only an innovative collaboration between The National Center and the FINRA Foundation, but an important advancement in the victim services field,” said Mai Fernandez, Executive Director of The National Center for Victims of Crime.
Fraud researchers typically find that only a small percentage of people actually report to authorities that they’ve been a victim of financial fraud. In the FINRA Foundation’s survey, a small group of respondents who admitted to investing in a fraudulent investment, but did not report the fraud, said that reporting the crime would not have made a difference, that they did not know where to report it or that they were too embarrassed. Taking Action was developed, in part, to help increase the number of victims who report fraud and get access to assistance.