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Investment Fraud Victim Recovery Checklist

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We talk now and again about what some like to call TMI (AKA Too Much Information). In my humble opinion some of the concern is warranted, while some of it is not. What might be TMI for one, may in fact not be (or at least not pose a threat) for another. For instance, telling us that yesterday you went to the Chambersville Springs Scottish Festival and bought a set of antique bagpipes is only a threat of TMI if a crook knows where you live, and also has an outlet for those handsome pipes of yours. Telling us your name, the state of your birth, your exact age, your email address or your phone number, though, that's really TMI for anyone, because fraudsters can use that information to impersonate you. 


Thing is, one does not need to have been a public figure for your personal data to be offered up on the Web. Dataminers have robots gleaning public records for everyone's data. Because information is a lucrative holding, dataminers are in a constant state of dossier plumping.


Sure, we can contact each datamining firm individually and request that our information be withheld, and many will comply. Some will not. And even those that do remove your data from public display will see every new traffic ticket, every property sale, every marriage, death or divorce, and sometimes even social media mentions as reason to open a new public file on you.


So unless you want to pay someone to keep vigil, or unless you want to add this sort of thing to your monthly to-do list, your data is going to be available on the Web either for free or for a few bucks.


Does it matter if your neighbor can look up your previous street addresses? Probably not. Does it matter if the general public can buy your home telephone number? You tell me (cuz I never answer my phone). Do you care if some Web site publicly displays your political affiliation? I don't. Will it matter if a datamining site lists people you've never heard of as relatives? Maybe; maybe not.


Your financial future, though, that matters for sure. It matters if someone gains access to your retirement accounts. It matters if a criminal (or loved one) is granted credit in your name. Of course, we can protect ourselves from credit fraud via a security credit freeze. And we can be vigilant against financial fraud. (Forbes how-to piece on that: https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnwasik/2012/07/25/swindle-alert-how-to-protect-against-financial-fra...)


Still, stuff happens, am I right? So here's a checklist of things to do should your financial data be stolen and should you fall victim to fraud.


Via FINRA (link to full article at bottom):


Investment Fraud Victim Recovery Checklist

The checklist below can help reclaim power from the fraudsters and help you move forward.


1. Create an investment fraud file. Start by collecting all relevant documentation concerning the fraud in one file that's kept in a secure location. The file should include a contact sheet of the perpetrator's name, mail and email addresses, telephone numbers and website address. Also include the fraudster's purported regulatory registration numbers, if they were provided to you, and a timeline of events, which may span many years. Your file should include the police report, if any, and any call notes or relevant documentation about the fraud. And add one more important piece of information: your most recent credit report from all three credit reporting companies.


2. Know your rights. Federal and, in some cases, state law give rights to victims of crime. Learn about your rights to better protect yourself. On the federal level, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) provides information on victim rights and financial fraud. In addition, check out the DOJ's Office for Victims of Crime's (OVC) brochure, What You Can Do If You Are a Victim of Crime, which provides an overview of crime victim rights, and where you can get help.

On the state level, check with your state Attorney General, whose contact information is available at www.naag.org.The North American Securities Administrators Association publishes a helpful “Investor Bill of Rights.”


3. Report fraud to regulators. National, federal and state regulatory agencies for investment products and professionals may be able to help. You may benefit from reporting the investment fraud to as many agencies as apply.


U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission: (800) SEC-0330 or file a complaint.
FINRA: (844) 57-HELPS or file a tip.

North American Securities Administrators Association: (202) 737-0900 or www.nasaa.org.
National Association of Insurance Commissioners: report fraud or file a complaint to your state Commissioner.

National Futures Association: (312) 781-1467 or file a complaint.

U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission: (866) 366-2382 or file a tip or complaint.
Internet Crime Complaint Center (a partnership between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center): www.ic3.gov.

It may also be helpful to file a report with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), by contacting the FTC's Complaint Assistant at: (877) FTC-HELP or go to www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov. Lodging a complaint will enter the fraud into the Consumer Sentinel Network so that law enforcement can stop ongoing fraud and track these crimes. This process, however, will not initiate a criminal investigation of your case.


4. Report the fraud to law enforcement. Reporting the investment fraud to law enforcement is important to begin the recovery process, ensure the responsible parties are investigated, and prevent further damage to other individuals.


Local Law Enforcement—Contact any local law enforcement office to file a police report.
District Attorney—Contact your local District Attorney's Office.
Attorney General—Contact your state's Attorney General's Consumer Protection unit and the prosecution unit to report the fraud.
Federal Law Enforcement—Contact your local FBI Field Office or submit an online tip at http://tips.fbi.gov.

5. Consider your options. It can be difficult to recover assets lost to fraud or other scenarios in which an investor has experienced a problem with an investment. But there are legitimate ways to attempt recovery. In most cases, you can do so on your own—at little or no cost.


6. Follow Up. Review the steps you've taken and follow up after 30 days with any law enforcement agencies or organizations that serve victims.


Here's a final sobering reality. If you have been already been a victim of investment fraud, you are more likely to be re-targeted, perhaps for a different investment fraud. Be on your guard. You can learn more about spotting the red flags of fraud by going to the Avoid Fraud section of FINRA.org/investors.


Read the entire article at FINRA's site here: http://www.finra.org/investors/highlights/recovery-checklist-investment-fraud

"The key to success is to keep growing in all areas of life - mental, emotional, spiritual, as well as physical." Julius Erving
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