On August 6, 2013, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”) issued an alert warning investors that fraudsters pretending to work for at least one well-known brokerage were making cold calls in which they told potential victims they had important information about certificates of deposit (“CDs”) with yields considerably higher than the best rates in the market.
The callers say their supervisor will follow up with more details, and, if they succeed in getting an address, send the victim applications and forms for transferring funds, in order to collect additional information. If successful in obtaining that information, they may try to steal money from an account, or the person’s identity.
Some of the people contacted are customers of the brokerage firm in question, and so less inclined to be skeptical than if called by a broker with whom they have no association. FINRA did not identify the firm.
What You Should Do
FINRA warns that anyone who receives an unsolicited call of this, or any other, kind from a supposed financial services representative should never provide personal information or authorize any transfer of funds. Instead, he or she should call the customer service center or compliance office of the firm the caller claims to work for, using the number provided on the firm’s website or in a telephone directory, and attempt to verify the offer being promoted.
Potential victims should also be aware that fraudsters can easily “spoof” telephone numbers. What appears on their caller ID may appear to be the number of their own brokerage firm, thanks to this technique. Trusting that the call is legitimate based on caller ID would be foolhardy. It’s best to make a separate call to confirm the legitimacy of the offer.
Anyone who gives information to a cold caller and later suspects he may have been scammed should contact his broker immediately to report a loss or theft of funds through an electronic funds transfer. FINRA also recommends that a complaint be filed with its online Complaint Center.
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Brenda Hamilton, Securities Attorney
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