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Senate Unit To Probe Senior Title Abuse

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The U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging will hold a hearing Sept. 5 to scrutinize tactics used by some financial investment specialists to gain access to the retirement savings of senior Americans.

An investigation by the Aging Committee has found that some designations used by advisors suggesting expertise in counseling seniors have dubious qualifications, according to Herb Kohl (D-Wisc.), chair of the committee.

Some designation have limited or no value for advising seniors on financial matters and often are obtained simply by attending a weekend seminar and passing an open-book, multiple-choice test, Kohl alleges. Many seniors targeted by salesmen using these designations have lost their life savings because they were steered toward investment instruments that were unsuitable for them, given their retirement needs and life expectancy, Kohl says.

The hearing will be held at the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington.

Among those testifying will be William Galvin, Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, who recently proposed a regulatory structure in his state to limit the number of senior designations advisors can use.

Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Christopher Cox and Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson are also scheduled to testify.