Save + Invest = Wealth. This simple formula illustrates how saving and investing is key to helping consumers achieve financial security. As Indiana' s chief securities regulator, I encourage Hoosiers to save and invest; however, there's a flaw with this formula. It doesn't account for the "fraud factor" that my office investigates on a daily basis. Too many people forget to do their homework before they invest, and as a result, they lose their hard-earned savings to fraud.
During national America Saves Week, which runs February 24 - March 2, my office will focus on the importance of saving and investing wisely. The Secretary of State's office holds a unique position; we do not offer financial advice. Rather, we regulate those who do.
Our job is to protect Hoosier investors from fraud. We regulate the stockbrokers and investment advisers who help you invest your money. We make sure they are properly licensed and follow Indiana's securities laws. We also regulate Indiana loan brokers. But that's only part of the picture - our mission is to provide Hoosier investors with tools and resources needed to make wise and informed financial decisions.
A statewide survey we conducted in early 2006 showed that nearly two-thirds of Indiana adults who own financial investments were unaware of potential fraud. As a result, my office created "Indiana Investment Watch" - an educational outreach campaign geared towards educating Hoosiers on how to protect their hard-earned savings from fraud. The program features television, radio, print, outdoor, interactive DVD, podcasts and newsletters. The program is not funded from state taxpayer dollars. Instead, it is funded entirely from the fines paid by stock brokerage firms for conflict-of-interest activities.
Education and awareness are an investor's first line of defense against investment fraud. So make the decision to save and invest during America Saves Week, but don't skip the final step. Remember to be alert for the "fraud factor" as you plan for your financial future, and remember that if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.
Please contact the Indiana Secretary of State's Securities Division at 800-223-8791 or visit our website at http://www.in.gov/sos/securities/investmentwatch/ if you have any questions about a broker, investment adviser, investment product, or if you think you are a victim of fraud.