As part of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority is reaching out to advisors, investors and others on ways to protect the financial health of those who have experienced fraud.
“The toll of financial fraud may extend well beyond lost money,” FINRA said in a statement.
Nearly two-thirds of fraud victims experience at least one “severe emotional consequence — including stress, anxiety, insomnia and depression,” according to a study supported by the FINRA Foundation.
The regulatory group points out that, unfortunately, victims of investment fraud are more likely to be re-targeted for different types of malfeasance. All investors can benefit from reading the section of FINRA’s website on avoiding fraud, the group says.
Fraud victims can help themselves “reclaim power from the fraudsters” by following these six steps.
1. Create an investment fraud file.
Collect all relevant documents concerning fraud in a file and store it in a secure location. The file could include the perpetrator’s name, mail and email addresses, phone numbers, website addresses, regulatory registration numbers, a timeline of events, police reports, call notes and recent credit report from all three credit reporting companies.
2. Know your rights.
Federal and state laws aim to protect fraud victims; the Department of Justice has information on victim rights and financial fraud, including a brochure, What You Can Do If You Are a Victim of Crime. To get details on what states do, visit www.naag.org.
3. Report fraud to regulators.
National, federal and state regulatory agencies for investment products and professionals may assist fraud victims, who should report fraud to as many agencies as possible.
These include: the Securities and Exchange Commission at (800) SEC-0330 or the group’s complaint website; FINRA at (844) 57-HELPS or its file a tip website; North American Securities Administrators Association at (202) 737-0900 or www.nasaa.org; National Association of Insurance Commissioners or a state commissioner; National Futures Association at (312) 781-1467 or its complaint website; U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission at (866) 366-2382 or its tip/complaint website; Internet Crime Complaint Center (a partnership between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center) at www.ic3.gov; the Federal Trade Commission’s Complaint Assistant at (877) FTC-HELP or www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov.
4. Report fraud to law enforcement.
Taking this step helps ensure that the responsible parties are investigated and helps prevent further damage to other individuals. This includes contacting local law enforcement, the district attorney’s office, attorney general, attorney general’s consumer protection and prosecution units; and federal law enforcement, such as http://tips.fbi.gov.
5. Consider options.
Though difficult, there are legitimate ways to recover lost assets, including some that have little or no cost.
6. Follow up.
Review steps taken and follow up after 30 days with law enforcement agencies or organizations that serve victims.