SOURCE: Law Offices of Debra Speyer

April 23, 2013 16:14 ET

Could You Fall for Such a Scam? The Warning Signs and How to Protect Yourself: Debra Speyer, Elder Law Attorney, Explains

PHILADELPHIA, PA--(Marketwired - Apr 23, 2013) - With the stock market and home prices on the rise recently, so are scams and most of them, unfortunately, targeting seniors and retirees.

Recently, 109 Jamaicans were charged under a cooperative effort between the U.S. and Jamaica to crack down on phone scams specifically targeting the elderly. Jamaica is finally letting Americans know that it recognizes it has a problem and is trying to do something about it. Jamaican scammers have become increasingly sophisticated, belligerent -- and effective -- at talking retirees out of their hard earned nest egg, often in the $100,000s.

But we don't have to look to Jamaica to discover fraud. Consider the stockbroker who invites seniors to a free lunch and seminar. He or she pressures seniors to open an account on the spot and begins making investments that are inappropriate for their age or circumstance. Or they convince them to sell one annuity to buy another similar one that ends up costing needless fees. And some even make promises of guaranteed returns they know are doubtful.

"If your broker didn't take your age and circumstances into account, you may have a case against him and his firm," says Debra Speyer who has recovered thousands of dollars for her clients who lost money resulting from mismanagement of retirees' portfolios.

Speyer Law provides the following tips to be on the guard against fraud:

  • Do not trade in your annuity for a similar one without knowing the broker's commission and the reasons for the change. Annuities have high fees.

  • Did you request safe, low risk investments? Is it being followed? If you see a purchase that seems questionable, don't hesitate to call the broker or office manager for clarification.

  • Avoid a margin account unless you understand the potential to double losses in a down market which carries greater risk than buying stocks with cash. Many retirees are eager to make up for losses elsewhere in their net worth, so this strategy can be seductive.

  • Did your broker invest in higher risk stocks or funds for you age and circumstances? Did he guarantee a certain return on your investment?

"If you can answer yes to any of the above, you may have a case against the broker and his firm," says Speyer. Speyer Law would be happy to discuss whether you do and invites you to call (610) 949-9555 or email to discuss it.

Speyer Law is a national law firm handling securities law, elder law and estates. Debra Speyer is an astute, experience attorney who is a former prosecutor at the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). She has been quoted in over 250 periodicals, was chosen Best Attorney in Philadelphia magazine's Best Lawyer issue and is a legal commentator on such programs as CNN, NBC, Fox News and The Wall Street Journal Radio. Speyer is also an adjunct professor of law at Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA.

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