HARRISBURG, (PRNewswire) – When most Americans discover they have a friend or neighbor with a family member serving overseas in the armed forces, they feel a sense of concern. The Pennsylvania Securities Commission (PSC) worries that there are some who see them instead as a target for financial scams.
Concerned about the potential for unscrupulous persons targeting military families for unsuitable or high-risk investments, the PSC established its own outreach and education program called Operation ASAP — for Armed Services Asset Protection.
“When I think about someone taking a serviceman’s re-enlistment bonus and investing it in speculative penny stocks or worse, it makes my blood boil,” PSC Chairman Bob Lam said. “Military families need to be on guard against anyone claiming to have surefire ways to earn high returns without risk.”
Commissioner Tom Michlovic noted, “One of the big differences between the men and women on active duty overseas today, compared to when I was in the Vietnam War, is age. Today’s soldier is older and much more likely to have a family back home with assets to protect.’
Because so many on active duty from Pennsylvania are Reservists or members of the National Guard, “they are attractive targets,” Michlovic said. “They have homes. They have bank accounts. They have CDs or other investments. Too often the spouse left behind is less savvy about money and more susceptible to high pressure or misleading sales tactics.”
The Securities Commission has created a special section on its website (http://www.psc.state.pa.us/asap) outlining ways the agency can help military families and providing several pages of tips and helpful advice on how to avoid scams or unwise investments.
The Commission also has prepared a free booklet on investing for military families that is available on the website or by calling the agency’s toll-free number (1-800-600-0007).
Commission staff also is conducting an outreach program statewide throughout the summer at military family resource centers and other venues where military families are likely to gather.
“If any group wants to hear about Operation ASAP or wants a presentation on how to avoid investment scams, they can reach us through our toll-free number (1-800-600-0007) or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org,” Michlovic added.
The Commission already has conducted several outreach activities at military family events in Harrisburg, Grantville and the State College area.
“Our Investor Bill of Rights has been a popular information piece,” Lam noted. “People are relieved to see a simple checklist that they can follow. They’re empowered to learn that they have the right to ask for all kinds of information — and the right to receive it — before they part with their hard-earned money,” he said.
“Unless the sales representative is willing and able to provide the information items listed in the Investor Bill of Rights, consumers ought to avoid doing business with that person. All investors have the right to receive copies of all completed account forms and agreements, as well as regular account statements that are accurate and understandable,” Lam concluded.