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SCC News

SCC Reminds Virginians of Senior Financial Exploitation on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

JUN 15, 2021

RICHMOND – Each year, seniors lose significant amounts of money due to financial exploitation. Many cases of financial abuse are never reported, which can happen when seniors or those helping them don’t recognize the signs of financial abuse.

Financial abuse can take many forms. Identity theft; online and telemarketing scams; unauthorized use of checking accounts, debit and credit cards, and the abuse of legally granted powers for individual assistance are just a few examples. Perpetrators may be strangers, family members, trusted friends or caregivers, court-appointed guardians, financial professionals or others.

On World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (June 15), the State Corporation Commission reminds financial professionals and all Virginians to look for signs of elder financial abuse.

“Senior financial exploitation can happen anywhere, any time and to anyone,” said Ron Thomas, director of the State Corporation Commission’s Division of Securities and Retail Franchising (Securities Division). “Perpetrators often strike when seniors are most vulnerable such as during a health crisis or after the death of a loved one. For many seniors, social isolation and increased reliance on the internet for many daily activities only compound the problem.”

Thomas encourages Virginians to recognize the warning signs of senior financial exploitation and steps that can be taken to report such abuse. Some red flags that may signal financial abuse are as follows:

  • Surrendering passwords and control of finances to a new or overly protective friend or caregiver;
  • Unusual activity in bank or investment accounts, including large, frequent or unexplained withdrawals or transfers between accounts;
  • Sudden changes to beneficiary designations or to legal or financial documents such as power of attorney, wills, trusts, retirement accounts or insurance policies, or suddenly missing documents;
  • Unexplained financial activities, such as checks made out to cash or written as “gifts;” unusual loans, or disappearance of assets, valuables or securities;
  • Fear of friends or family members, or a sudden change in feelings toward them;
  • A lack of knowledge by a senior about their financial resources or their reluctance to discuss financial matters, and
  • Suspicious signatures on checks or other documents.

Thomas urges Virginians who suspect they or a loved one are the victims of investment fraud or possible senior financial exploitation to contact the Division of Securities and Retail Franchising at 804-371-9051 in Richmond or toll-free at 1-800-552-7945, by email at SRF_General@scc.virginia.gov, or on its website at scc.virginia.gov/pages/Consumer-Investments.

The North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA), of which the SCC Securities Division is a member, also has developed resources to help identify fraud and to provide information on how to report suspected elder financial abuse. These resources are available on NASAA’s “Serve Our Seniors” website at serveourseniors.org/about/investors/.

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Contact: Katha Treanor, 804-371-9141

 

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SCC Urges Virginia Investors to Exercise Caution When Using Social Media and Online Trading Platforms

JUN 11, 2021

RICHMOND – Social media and online chatrooms allow today’s investors to connect more frequently with one another than ever before. While these resources make investing more accessible to greater numbers of people, they also pose significant risks to the Virginia investor community, especially novice investors, if not approached with caution. The State Corporation Commission (SCC) urges all Virginians to use caution when using online resources, including smartphone investing apps, to invest.

Danny Taylor, the chief of investigations for the SCC’s Division of Securities and Retail Franchising, notes that social media campaigns and online forums can be misleading. This is because investors on those platforms can influence the trading volatility of a stock by raising interest in a certain company.

“Reddit happens to be a very large platform for younger investors, as well as TikTok,” Taylor said. He added that investments related to the recent cryptocurrency surge are one of the biggest issues that his division is currently facing.

Investors who closely follow social media about trending investments could be at risk of making decisions before considering all of the important information about those investments. To address this problem, the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) recently issued an investor awareness advisory to help investors avoid making emotional decisions that can negatively impact their long-term investing strategy:

  • Resist the pressure created by social media chat platforms and buy/sell indicators influenced by social opinions. Do your homework on the sources making recommendations about an investment.
  • Check the registration status of both a security’s promoter and the security itself before making any purchase.
  • Make sure you fully understand how trading on margin and options work before undertaking such a strategy. Margin and options trading are generally riskier than simply buying or selling securities.
  • Keep your long-term investment goals in mind before being pressured into any volatile investment.

The SCC’s Division of Securities and Retail Franchising offers a full list of resources that investors may use to keep themselves safe online.

For more information on securities regulation and registration in Virginia, contact the Division of Securities and Retail Franchising at 804-371-9051 in Richmond or toll-free at 1-800-552-7945. For more information, visit the Division’s website at scc.virginia.gov/pages/Consumer-Investments, or visit the North American Securities Administrators Association’s website at www.nasaa.org.

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Contact: Ford Carson, 804-371-9141

 

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