Many scams could be avoided if consumers took two simple steps before acting: to ask and check. Questions are empowering, and many scammers will shut down once you start asking them. However, it’s a good idea to not only ask questions, but to do your homework on their answers. Here are three examples of how to ask and check to help prevent financial exploitation:
A financial professional contacts you with a hot new investment opportunity. Ask the professional if he or his firm is registered with FINRA, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission or a state securities regulator. Also ask if the product is registered with an agency. Then visit www.SaveandInvest.org or www.SEC.gov, or call FINRA (800-289-9999), the SEC (800-732-0330) or the Colorado Division of Securities (888-295-7422) to check his answer.
A charity calls you out of the blue to solicit a donation. Ask the caller if the charity is registered with the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office and what percentage of your donation would go toward the services the charity provides. Then visit www.checkthecharity.com or www.give.org or call the Colorado Consumer Line at 800-222-4444 to see if their claims check out.
A roofing company comes to your front door with a deal you can’t refuse. Ask the company for references, and call those references. Then contact an independent resource, such as your local Better Business Bureau, at www.bbb.org or 303-758-2100.
Remember to never give out your personal information or your money without asking and checking first!