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Doing Homework Can Preserve a Lifetime of Savings

PHOTO: Even smart investors can be scammed. Kelly Vierk at the Secretary of State's Office says you can call them for a free background check on any investment, or person making the pitch.
PHOTO: Even smart investors can be scammed. Kelly Vierk at the Secretary of State's Office says you can call them for a free background check on any investment, or person making the pitch.
July 1, 2013

CHEYENNE, Wyo. - An offer too good to be true does not always arrive via an unsolicited phone call or email. It can even happen at a trusted financial firm.

That insight comes from Kelly Vierk, securities compliance auditor with the Wyoming Secretary of State. She said no matter who pitches an investment deal, homework needs to be done before money changes hands. And that homework is just a phone call away, she added.

"We can look it up and let them know whether it's registered appropriately, or whether they should just run. Also, we can look up any individual who is selling that product," Vierk said.

Most brokers and advisors are hardworking and trustworthy, she added, but there are always bad apples. She said the number to call is 307-777-7370, or use the compliance division website, WYInvestorAwareness.gov.

AARP Wyoming has been helping get the word out that seniors tend to be targets of scammers more often than other demographics. The nonprofit encouraged anyone being offered an investment to check it out first.

Vierk says even though her office offers assistance for free, calls seeking research help are not very common.

"The most calls we get are the ones on the back end," she said: 'Hey, I think I put money into something I shouldn't have. And now I can't get a hold of the person that I gave it to and my money might be gone.'"

Vierk's office also offers checklists to help folks decide if an investment is right for them when it comes to their budget, liquidity, risk tolerance and tax factors.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - WY