The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s Securities Helpline for Seniors has responded to over 2,500 calls and helped recover nearly $750,000 from investors since the service launched in April.
In a report released Wednesday, FINRA noted its staff has fielded 2,545 calls through Dec. 20, 2015, with the average call lasting about 25 minutes. The average age of a caller is around 70, FINRA found. But it’s not just senior investors who are calling in with questions.
In one case, FINRA’s staff helped the son of a potential victim who called in with concerns about a recent investment solicitation his father had received. FINRA staff helped the son use BrokerCheck, which revealed the individual had been barred from the industry. The son then stopped his father from investing about $110,000.
In addition to helping in individual cases, the tool has also helped FINRA identify several emerging trends and scams around taxes, phony lottery winnings and binary options.
FINRA introduced its helpline to address the growing concern around the vulnerability of senior investors. Research shows that more than 20 percent of adults suffer from some form of cognitive impairment and 5.1 million people aged 65 or older have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, according to 2015 statistics provided by the Alzheimer’s Association.
Moreover, in 2014, the retirement assets of seniors (those aged 65-74) were estimated to be $3.5 trillion, making these investors particularly attractive to fraudsters.
In fact, over two-thirds of financial advisors have encountered financial fraud among their elderly clients at least a few times a year. About 37 percent of advisors surveyed by the American Institute of CPAs in June said financial fraud caused a significant emotional impact, while about 40 percent reported it caused a moderate impact.