Elder abuse and investing – the background

In June, OBSI reported that it looked into 990 banking and investment consumer complaints in 2009, representing a 48 % increase over 2008 and a more than tripling of the number of case files in just three years. OBSI also processed over 12,400 individual inquiries from consumers and small businesses in 2009. Investment complaints continued to drive much of the overall increase in complaint volumes: while banking sector complaints were up 21%, investment complaints were up a staggering 73%. The recovery time for investment losses can often be too long, it can have the event of severely limiting cash inflow for those who are retired. Losses are a life-altering event for seniors.

What form do these abuses take? Excessive borrowing to invest, unsuitable investments, excessive fees, account churning , diminished liquidity, unauthorized trading, all manner of special fees etc. These are just some of the ways a nest egg can be destroyed. On top of that you can add sham investments, undue signing up for liabilities of others and of course outright misappropriation of capital.

This series of columns is directed at helping seniors protect themselves and raising advocacy issues that CARP can pursue. In future columns I will get into the specifics.

Ken Kivenko is a retired executive who has functioned as an investor advocate for the last decade. He has made contributions in improving securities regulations , assisted investors with restitution claims , fought for better complaint processes in the financial services industry and identified emerging investor protection issues. He publishes a bi-weekly eNewsletter , the Fund OBSERVER , whose focus is on investment fund bear traps and advisor malpractices.

Keywords: elder, abuse, investment, complaints