Knowing about being scammed, or the potential to be scammed, is one thing. In fact, most people who end up being the victims of identity theft, securities fraud, or get scammed in some other way know that the potential is out there, they even know what to watch out for. Their mindset is, “It will never happen to me” or “I don’t have enough money to make it worthwhile.” Unfortunately, anyone can become a victim, and a scam artist only needs a few hundred victims at a couple thousand dollars each to make off with a sizeable amount of money. Fortunately, all those government regulations that often drive us crazy are there to protect us. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has many resources out there for investors and potential investors alike to do some homework and learn more about the risk of being scammed. One such tool is the Risk Meter.
The questionnaire is only 12 questions long, but it goes through some of the points where people are most likely to be at risk. They are mostly simple yes or no questions that will help walk a person through some of the most common areas that they are likely to be the victim of a scam.
As you go through the questions, you will notice they are obvious questions. They relate to all of the topics on how to spot fraud and how to avoid being scammed. However, if you take some time to think about the questions, and how they relate to your life, you will be surprised at how many instances there are where you are putting yourself at risk. They are as simple as whether or not you have used the FINRA Broker Check to make sure someone offering an investment was licensed, or if you have signed up for the National Do Not Call list. When answering honestly, many people will end up checking the box that means they are more at risk than they would really like to be.
The best part about the risk analyzer is that at the end you do not just get a number or a statement saying you are at low, medium, or high risk of becoming a victim. The output is simple to read, it gives you that number, but also goes through the areas where you are at higher risk so you can remedy the situation, or at least be more aware of the areas you could be scammed.
Scam artists will always be around trying to make money off someone else’s hard work. While many people are aware and know the red flags associated with a potential scam, many people are unwilling to prepare themselves in the event they are indeed taken advantage of. The Risk Meter only takes a few minutes to complete, if you have not already done so, do it now and become one of the minority who are better prepared to guard against these illegitimate businessmen.