<< All News Thursday, September 4, 2003

Bismarck, ND - North Dakota Securities Commissioner Karen Tyler spoke at a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington DC today, alerting Seniors to the growing dangers of investment fraud and announcing new financial education initiatives to be delivered by state securities regulators.

Tyler said a volatile stock market, combined with interest rates at 45-year-lows, and rising costs for medical insurance, prescription drugs and basic living expenses, have made older Americans a primary target for financial predators.

Older investors are being targeted with increasingly complex investment scams involving unregistered securities, promissory notes, charitable gift annuities, viatical settlements, and Ponzi schemes - all promising inflated returns, said Tyler.

Behind these schemes are financial predators who know that seniors and others living on fixed incomes are being squeezed in the current financial environment, Tyler said. Their products and pitches sound tempting to many seniors who've seen their retirement accounts dwindle in recent years - and who may not have the benefit of time to recoup their losses.

Tyler, who also serves as the Chair of the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) Investor Education Section, said that the target for those who prey on seniors gets larger each day as the Baby Boomers approach retirement. Each day, more than 5,500 people turn 65 years old and nearly one out of every eight Americans is 65 or older.

Noting that state securities regulators have a long tradition of protecting investors through education, Tyler announced that NASAA is launching a new investor education initiative designed specifically to assist seniors. Our mission is clear: to provide seniors with the educational resources they need to help keep their retirement assets safe from investment fraud, Tyler said.

NASAA's new Senior Outreach initiative will monitor senior-related investment fraud issues and develop targeted educational responses; create a Seniors Against Investment Fraud program blueprint, based on a highly successful program developed by California securities regulators, for other states to tailor to their own jurisdictions; and create a web-based clearinghouse of existing and new senior programs and publications offered by state securities regulators.

Tyler also unveiled the new Senior Investor Resource Center on NASAA's website (www.nasaa.org). The online Senior Investor Resource Center has been developed specifically for senior audiences and offers a variety of valuable resources, she said.

The Senior Investor Resource Center includes: a checklist of questions seniors can ask before making an investment decision; common sense solutions to protect assets from investment fraud; information about the top frauds targeting seniors; contact information for securities regulators in each state, the District of Columbia, Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico; an Investors Bill of Rights and Investor Fraud Awareness Quiz and; links to a variety of investor education publications and programs offered by state securities regulators and others to help seniors fight investment fraud.

It is never to late to improve your financial education, Tyler said. I am confident that our Senior Outreach initiative and the Senior Investor Resource Center will make great progress toward our goal of helping senior investors protect themselves from investment fraud by providing the tools they need to make sound financial decisions.

Also taking part in the news conference were Christine A Bruenn, NASAA President and Maine Securities Administrator; Mary Wallace, Senior Legislative Representative, AARP Department of Consumer Affairs, Washington, DC; Col. and Mrs. Ken Reusser of Beaverton, Oregon, victims of a prime bank investment fraud; and Mrs. Juanita Periman of Fairmont, Montana, victim of alleged unethical and dishonest business practices, unauthorized trading, unsuitable trades, and churning by a former USBancorp Piper Jaffray broker.

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