On Your Side Alert: Financial Fraud Study: 8 in 10 Targeted

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A new report says Financial Fraud continues to hit Americans in the wallet. Experts say crooks are collecting billions of dollars yearly by fooling consumers.

A new study says you, or someone you know, is probably a victim of a scammer who wants your money, personal information, or both. Douglas Alexander, of Alexander Financial Services, says it means one thing. "Watch out and be careful," he said.

The study was prepared for the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority or FINRA. It says the most commons scams are those fake lottery emails from over seas, free lunch seminars, penny stocks and cold calls where crooks try to get you to give up personal information. People over 65 are the top targets.

"That shouldn't come really as a surprise. What should come as a surprise is that more men are targeted than women and that the better educated you are, the more likelihood you are to be a target." Alexander explained.

When it comes to protecting your money, Alexander says never give out personal information over phone or through email. He says you shouldn't give up your cash until you've done research with organizations like the Better Business Bureau.

If you think you've been scammed, don't wait to report it, contact your bank and credit card companies. You can find a list of places to report scams on StopFraud.gov. And if you're one of those people who think you'll never be scammed, the research found more than 8 in 10 people have been targeted.

"I think the number is higher for two reasons. One, I think people don't know how to report the fact that they've been scammed and the other one is more of ego and embarrassment," Alexander said.

You may be up to date on the latest schemes but your family and friends may not, the study serve as reminder that you can never be too careful.

"We all think we are smart and we think we can't get caught or we won't get caught and find out that this actually a big deal and they are going to continue and the tougher the times are with the economy, I think the more scams you are going to see," he said.

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