Last month, Washington Post columnist Michelle Singletary reported that the pandemic made it easier for criminals to perpetrate fraud. More of us, particularly senior citizens, spent more time at home and isolated from others with our phones and internet-capable devices within easy reach. Not only that, people were (and still are) under a lot of stress. Even if you felt fine and it seemed you were adjusting well to the changes the pandemic wrought, you may have been stressed without realizing it.
Singletary writes that state securities regulators often act as crusaders against investment fraud. Their efforts are complicated by the fact that scammers spend ill-gotten gains quickly and people are hesitant to report fraud because they feel ashamed. The pandemic also made it easier to scammers to reach people, but COVID-related court closures meant it was harder for victims to have their day in court.
Many people may be able to spot low-risk, high return investments that sound too good to be true, but there are also investments that can appear legitimate when they are not. You may feel pressure to jump on an investment right away but if you aren’t sure about it, you can do more research before taking the leap.
Speaking of pressure: if someone pressures you to get family members of friends in on an investment or if someone in your circle calls you with an amazing investment, take a step back.
Singletary advises readers to look into investment opportunities by going to www.nasaa.org, the website of the North American Securities Administrators Association, to contact their state securities regulator’s office. When you click on the “Contact Your Regulator” link, you will be able to verify if the entity that wants to invest is licensed or not.
You can also run any investment opportunities by your Fee-Only financial planner to get their input and advice.