BBB unveils website to help with safe investing
The Better Business Bureau Thursday launched a new consumer website to help investors make smarter investing decisions while avoiding fraud, risky investments and unlicensed brokers.
In conjunction with the FINRA Investor Education Foundation, the BBB unveiled the BBB Smart Investing site, www.bbb.org/
smart-investing/. The campaign combines the research and expansive knowledge base of the FINRA Foundation with the extensive consumer outreach of BBB's trusted 100-year-old name and its 104 local operations across the United States.
"Our partnership with BBB will help Americans in communities across the country protect their savings from fraudsters," FINRA Foundation President Gerri Walsh said in a prepared statement. "The FINRA Foundation's 'Outsmarting Investment Fraud' curriculum and resources have been field-tested, and give consumers the tools and information they need to thwart fraudsters touting investment scams."
According to the Federal Trade Commission and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, consumers reported losing more than $1.5 billion to all types of scams in 2011. FINRA Foundation research found that investors are overconfident in their knowledge of financial management. A telephone survey found that 92 percent felt "somewhat" or "very confident" about managing their finances, with almost 80 percent describing themselves as "somewhat" or "very" knowledgeable about investing. But only 44 percent got a passing grade on a basic financial literacy knowledge test. BBB Smart Investing hopes to help change that.
"This is a great partnership," Carrie Hurt, president and CEO of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, said. "Even though BBB has always investigated investment scams, this gives us a whole new portfolio of prevention tools to offer to consumers."
She said the FINRA Foundation's basic 'Ask & Check' message will help consumers make smarter investment decisions. The program will go a long way toward preventing investment scams that have become so much more prevalent in recent years as people more actively manage their own retirement funds, she added.
A free DVD, "Trick$ of the Trade: Outsmarting Investment Fraud," is available on the website. It is an hour-long documentary that originally appeared on PBS.