Nexushour.com Review Is Nexushour Scam or Should I Invest

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SCAM WATCH

Investment schemes involve getting you or your business to part with money on the promise of a questionable financial opportunity.

Common types of investment scams

Investment cold calls

A scammer claiming to be a stock broker or portfolio manager calls you and offers financial or investments advice. They will claim what they are offering is low-risk and will provide you with quick and high returns, or encourage you to invest in overseas companies. The scammer’s offer will sound legitimate and they may have resources to back up their claims. They will be persistent, and may keep calling you back.

The scammer may claim that they do not need an Australian Financial Services licence, or that that they are approved by a real government regulator or affiliated with a genuine company.

The investments offered in these type of cold calls are usually share, mortgage, or real estate high-return schemes, options trading or foreign currency trading. The scammer is operating from overseas, and will not have an Australian Financial Services licence.

Share promotions and hot tips

The scammer encourages you to buy shares in a company that they predict is about to increase in value. You may be contacted by email or the message will be posted in a forum. The message will seem like an inside tip and stress that you need to act quickly. The scammer is trying to boost the price of stock so they can sell shares they have already bought, and make a huge profit. The share value will then go down dramatically.

If you invest you will be left with large losses or shares that are virtually worthless.

Investment seminars

Investment seminars are promoted by promising motivational speakers, investment experts, or self-made millionaires who will give you expert advice on investing. They are designed to convince you into following high risk investment strategies such as borrowing large sums of money to buy property, or investments that involve lending money on a no security basis or other risky terms.

Promoters make money by charging you an attendance fee, selling overpriced reports or books, and by selling investments and property without letting you get independent advice. The investments on offer are generally overvalued and you may end up having to pay fees and commissions that the promoters did not tell you about. High pressure sales tactics or false and misleading claims are often used to pressure you into investing, such as guaranteed rent or discounts for buying off the plan.

If you invest there is a high chance you will lose money.

Visit ASIC’s MoneySmart for more information about investment seminar scams.

Superannuation

Superannuation scams offer to give you early access to your super fund, often through a self-managed super fund or for a fee. The offer may come from a financial adviser, or a scammer posing as one. The scammer may ask you to agree to a story to ensure the early release of your money and then, acting as your financial adviser, they will deceive your superannuation company into paying out your super benefits directly to them. Once they have your money, the scammer may take large ‘fees’ out of the released fund or leave you with nothing at all.

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You cannot legally access the preserved part of your super until you are between 55 and 60, depending what year you were born. There are certain exceptions such as severe financial hardship or compassionate grounds – but anyone who otherwise offers early access to your super is acting illegally.

Visit ASIC’s MoneySmart for more information about how super works.

Warning signs

  • You receive a call, or repeated calls, from someone offering unsolicited advice on investments. They may try to keep you on the phone for a long time, or try and transfer you to a more senior person. You are told that you need to act quickly and invest or you will miss out.
  • You receive an email from a stranger offering advice on the share price of a particular company. It may not be addressed to you personally, and may even give the impression it was sent to you by mistake.
  • An advertisement or seminar makes claims such as ‘risk-free investment’, ‘be a millionaire in three years’, or ‘get-rich quick’.
  • You are invited to attend a free seminar, but there are high fees to attend any further sessions. The scammer, posing as the promoter, may offer you a loan to cover both the cost of your attendance at the additional seminars and investments.
  • You see an advertisement promising a quick and easy way to ‘unlock’ your superannuation early.

Protect yourself

  • Do not give your details to an unsolicited caller or reply to emails offering financial advice or investment opportunities – just hang up or delete the email.
  • Be suspicious of investment opportunities that promise a high return with little or no risk.
  • Check if a financial advisor is registered via the ASIC website. Any business or person that offers or advises you about financial products must be an Australian Financial Services (AFS) licence holder.
  • Check ASIC’s list of companies you should not deal with. If the company that called you is on the list – do not deal with them.
  • Do not let anyone pressure you into making decisions about your money or investments and never commit to any investment at a seminar – always get independent legal or financial advice.
  • Do not respond to emails from strangers offering predictions on shares, investment tips, or investment advice.
  • If you feel an offer to buy shares might be legitimate, always check the company’s listing on the stock exchange for its current value and recent shares performance. Some offers to buy your shares may be well below market value.
  • Never commit to any investment at a seminar – always take time to consider the opportunity and seek independent financial advice.
  • If you are under 55, watch out for offers promoting easy access to your preserved superannuation benefits. If you illegally access your super early, you may face penalties under taxation law.

Have you been scammed?

If you think you have provided your account details to a scammer, contact your bank or financial institution immediately.

We encourage you to report scams to the ACCC via the report a scam page. This helps us to warn people about current scams, monitor trends and disrupt scams where possible. Please include details of the scam contact you received, for example, email or screenshot.

Scams that relate to financial services can also be reported to ASIC.

Spread the word to your friends and family to protect them.

10 Best Investment Apps of 2020

At NerdWallet, we strive to help you make financial decisions with confidence. To do this, many or all of the products featured here are from our partners. However, this doesn’t influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.

You can do just about anything on your phone — including invest, thanks to a variety of investment and stock trading apps.

All of the brokers on our list of best brokers for stock trading have high-quality apps. But if mobile trading is most important to you, these 10 investing apps are NerdWallet’s picks for the best of 2020. (Need more info to get started? Read our primer on how to buy stocks.)

on E*TRADE’s website

E*TRADE

cash credit with a qualifying deposit or transfer

on E*TRADE’s website

cash credit with a qualifying deposit or transfer

Large investment selection.

Excellent customer support.

Access to extensive research.

Advanced mobile app.

Commission-free stock, options and ETF trades.

Website can be difficult to navigate.

on TD Ameritrade’s website

TD Ameritrade

cash credit with qualifying deposit

on TD Ameritrade’s website

cash credit with qualifying deposit

Commission-free stock, ETF and options trades.

High-quality trading platforms.

No account minimum.

Good customer support.

Large investment selection.

Costly broker-assisted trades.

on Robinhood’s website

Robinhood

no promotion available at this time

on Robinhood’s website

no promotion available at this time

No account minimum.

No retirement accounts.

No mutual funds or bonds.

Limited customer support.

on Stash Invest’s website

Stash Invest

cash credit to invest with qualifying deposit

on Stash Invest’s website

cash credit to invest with qualifying deposit

Educational content and support.

Values-based investment offerings.

No investment management.

High ETF expense ratios.

on Acorns’s website

Acorns

no promotion at this time

on Acorns’s website

no promotion at this time

Automatically invests spare change.

Cash back at select retailers.

Educational content available.

Small investment portfolio.

High fee on small account balances.

Want to compare more options? Here are our other top picks:

Summary of Best Investment Apps of 2020

on E*TRADE’s website

cash credit with a qualifying deposit or transfer

on E*TRADE’s website

on TD Ameritrade’s website

cash credit with qualifying deposit

on TD Ameritrade’s website

on Robinhood’s website

no promotion available at this time

on Robinhood’s website

on Stash Invest’s website

cash credit to invest with qualifying deposit

on Stash Invest’s website

on Acorns’s website

no promotion at this time

on Acorns’s website

SoFi Active Investing

on SoFi Invest’s website

career counseling plus loan discounts with qualifying deposit

on SoFi Invest’s website

cash credit with qualifying deposit

in cash bonus with qualifying deposit.

No promotion at this time

No promotion available at this time

Brokerage app FAQs

How much money do I need to get started?

Shockingly little. Thanks to micro-investing apps like Acorns and Stash, you can kick-start an investment portfolio with small amounts of money — just your spare change, in fact. Acorns, for example, sweeps a linked credit or debit card account, rounds up purchases to the nearest dollar and invests the change. Stash offers a similar opt-in feature that rounds up purchases to deposit money in a user’s account.

Beyond the micro-investing apps, the amount of money you’ll need to begin investing after you open your account depends on the assets you intend to buy. Individual stock shares range from as little as a few dollars to hundreds or even thousands of dollars per share. Mutual funds often have minimums of $1,000 or more, but exchange-traded funds (ETFs) are essentially mutual funds that trade like a stock, and they can often be purchased for less than many mutual funds. Don’t forget, too, that some brokers charge trading fees every time you buy or sell an investment. The good news there is that many brokers now offer free trades.

Many of NerdWallet’s picks for best apps have account minimums of $5 or less, so you can open an account right away and over the internet. Here’s more on what a brokerage account is and how to open one.

Which investment app is best for stock traders?

In the summary table above we’ve categorized our best investing apps based in part on price (trading costs and account fees), mobile platform features and account minimums.

What is the best investment app for beginners?

For new investors just learning the ropes, Acorns and Stash are worthy contenders for your first investing dollars. One reason is that their services focus on ETFs instead of just individual stocks, although Stash also offers about 150 stocks.

While the idea of buying individual stocks might be exciting, building a portfolio of stocks requires a fair amount of research and discipline. ETFs offer instant diversification in that they contain shares of multiple companies (dozens, even) like a mutual fund, but trade like individual stocks. (Check out this full explainer on ETFs.)

Although all the other brokers allow investing in ETFs through their apps, Acorns takes a different approach by steering investors towards pre-built portfolios that contain multiple ETFs, diversifying your investment dollars across a collection of stocks and bonds. Portfolios are based on your tolerance for risk — based on your age, goals and time horizon — and automatically rebalanced when the stock market fluctuates. Acorns uses a handful of ETF portfolios that range from aggressive to conservative. Stash doesn’t offer pre-built portfolios but helps investors choose specific ETFs based on themes (e.g., “Clean and Green” is an ETF that holds environmentally responsible companies).

If buying individual shares of companies is something you’d like to do, see our guide on How to Buy Stocks.

What assets can I trade on these apps?

The mobile trading experience varies by broker — and so do the range of available assets. Among the picks for best apps, Acorns offers only ETFs, while TD Ameritrade’s offerings include individual stocks, mutual funds, ETFs, bonds, options and currency (or forex).

Is my money insured?

Just as FDIC insurance insures bank accounts, SIPC insurance insures the money you have in your brokerage account (or robo-advisor account) up to $500,000. $250,000 of that total can be applied to protect cash that you haven’t yet invested. All of NerdWallet’s picks for best apps are members of the SIPC.

However, it’s important to note that investments you make in your account can potentially fall in value or even decrease to zero, and investment losses are not covered by any type of insurance. (Here’s more on SIPC insurance and what it does and doesn’t protect.)

Stash Invest Review 2020 – Is It Even Worth It?

Every new investor faces two challenges:

  1. The barrier to entry is too high
  2. Not having the slightest idea of what to actually invest in

It’s no secret that investing jargon can sound like a foreign language. This can deter many people from ever taking the time to learn what they actually need to know. On top of that, many brokerages require investors to have minimum balances and automatic deposits that are just too much.

Fortunately, those days are long gone.

Technology has been huge for lowering investment barriers. There are now so many options that are both accessible and easy to understand by everyone.

One of these options is Stash Invest. You can get $5 for free when you sign up and make your first investment!

Stash is great because the app allows users – who perhaps don’t have a ton of money – to buy fractional shares of a stock. Want to buy Amazon but a single share costs $1,000?? With fractional shares, you can buy a percentage of a single share.

Stash isn’t the only one offering fractional shares – the functionality has become popular and companies like M1 Finance also offer it on their platforms. M1 Finance allows you to build a portfolio of stocks and ETFs for free – yes free. No fees.

Plus, many of the major brokers now offer commission-free investing, so keep that in mind as you make your decision of where to invest.

If that sounds appealing, then I recommend you check out these 5 apps that allow you to actually invest for free.

Bonus: Stash Banking is offering a $50 bonus if you deposit $300 within 30 days. Check it out here >>

Quick Summary

  • Automatic investing app with $0 minimum to get started
  • Makes investing “easy” by really simplifying the process
  • Fees as low as $1 per month

Stash Invest

Product Name

Min Investment

Annual Fees

Account Type

Traditional IRA, Roth IRA, Taxable

Promotions

Why Stash Invest?

Stash Invest is an app that launched in 2020 after the founders set out to answer the question: why don’t half of Americans invest?

They kept coming back to one answer. Most people found investing to be un-relatable, expensive and intimidating. (Can you relate?!) From those answers, Stash Invest was born.

The Stash Invest app allows investors to start investing for free. Not only that, but Stash makes choosing investments extremely simple.

They also have low fees at only $1 per month, for basic banking and personal investing.

Stash Invest Fees and Pricing

Stash Invest recently updated the pricing and tried to simplify their offerings.

They currently have 3 pricing options – all flat fee offerings (versus the previous structure of AUM).

Beginner: This plan is $1 per month, and offers a basic brokerage account and Stash Banking account. It also offers free financial guidance.

Growth: This plan is $3 per month, and allows retirement investing, along with a taxable brokerage account and banking options.

Stash+: This is their most robust option, and is for families who want to save and invest. At $9 per month, you get not only taxable and retirement investments, but you also get up to two custodial investment accounts for your children (note: these are not 529 plans).

These options compare to Acorns, but are slightly more expensive in some regards, although you do get banking at every price point.

How To Get Started In Five Simple Steps

If you want to get started with Stash Invest, the sign-up process is extremely simple. (After you sign up check the bottom of the post for ways to quickly grow that balance.)

# 1 – Click Here To Get Started

Click here to check out Stash Invest online and get started on your desktop.

Click here to get Stash for free on the App Store, you’ll be directed to the app store and you can download the app to your phone.

# 2 – Fill Out Your Profile

Next, you’ll fill out your basic information and answer a couple of questions.

These questions will help Stash guide you on making investment decisions. It’s important that you’re honest with these survey questions because they help determine your risk tolerance.

This should only take a couple of minutes.

# 3 – Choose An Investment

Based on the answers you provided, Stash Invest will show you investment options that line up with your risk tolerance (conservative, moderate, or aggressive.) You can click on the different investments to learn more about them. (Don’t worry they’re explained in layman’s terms!)

The great thing about Stash is that they make investing relatable. Instead of crazy names of ETFs and ticker symbols, you invest in “themes” that are based on your wants, beliefs, or likes. We’ll talk more about that below.

Right now, there are over 1,800 investment options (stocks and funds) available on the platform.

You can invest in these for as little as $0.01.

Link up the bank account you want to have money withdrawn from to make your investments.

It takes about 2-3 days for the money to transfer into Stash.

# 5 – Confirm Your Identity

Verify your identity, create a four digit pin number and you’re all done.

How To Actually Invest With Stash Invest

Stash does things differently than your traditional investing app or brokerage.

Instead of choosing a stock or ticker symbol to invest in, you choose from themed investments.

This is a really great way to make investing relatable, while at the same making investing affordable and easy.

For example, if you believe that Americans will spend more on healthcare simply because they are getting older, you could invest in “Doctor, Doctor”. This investment is based on an ETF that invests in U.S. healthcare companies.

Similarly, you could invest in “Companies”. For example, you could want to invest in a piece of Warren Buffett through his company, Berkshire Hathaway.

When you click on an investment you can see the underlying holdings – real companies that you invest in.

Purchasing an investment is really easy. You just click on the “Add To Portfolio” button and enter how much you want to invest.

Fractional Shares

Fractional Shares are now available on Stash – which is great if you’re getting started with just a little bit of money. Fractional shares of most investments are available on our platform starting at 1¢, and customers can buy a piece of any stock or fund trading at more than $1,000 per share starting with just 5¢.

DRIP (Dividend Reinvestment Program)

Dividends are a huge driver of long term growth and returns – and Stash now includes free dividend reinvestment. Customers can automatically reinvest dividends across STASH’s suite of investment products, including personal brokerage, Traditional & Roth IRA’s and custodial accounts.

What To Do Next

The goal of Stash (and any investment account) is to build your portfolio over time. Stash Invest makes it fun and easy by creating milestones and ways to encourage you to invest more.

Once you make your first investment, you’ll get the milestones based on thresholds:

Stash also tries to show you your potential – by both adding new investments and teaching you the value of investing often.

Over time, you can check in your home screen and see how your portfolio is doing overall.

You can also enable Diversify Me.

  • Diversify Me simplifies the portfolio building experience and guides customers towards a well-balanced, diversified foundation in their investment accounts. STASH’s diversification engine automatically constructs starter portfolios that are tailor-made for each customer. Then, customers can invest their desired amounts with just one tap.

Stash Retire

Stash has a feature called Stash Retire, which is a retirement account option for investors. Stash Retire offers both Traditional and Roth IRAs – and offers the same investment choices you’d find in Stash. You can contribute up to the IRA Contribution Limit in a Stash Retire account.

Stash Retire is part of the Growth Plan, and it is slightly more expensive at $3 per month.

You can still start investing for free, but that could be quickly eroded by fees if you don’t invest more and see investment gains.

Stash Banking

Stash also recently partnered with Green Dot Bank to launch a banking feature on its app¹. They offer a debit account with no overdraft or monthly maintenance fees², access to a large network of free ATMs nationwide³, ASAP Direct Deposit™ which enables customers to get their pay up to 2 days early⁴, as well as Stock Back™⁵ the only rewards program where customers earn stock every time⁶ they spend.

Every STASH customer also receives personal guidance across every aspect of their finances—from spending to saving and investing‚ with actionable advice to help them get the most out of their money.

Of course, the banking aspect connects seamlessly to Stash Invest, to allow you to manage all your money in one place.

Also, with banking, you can do the following:

  • Round-Ups to grow savings on auto-pilot. Every time customers spend, STASH will round-up the purchases to the nearest dollar. Each time the round-ups total hits $5, STASH will transfer the spare change to the customer’s personal investment account.
  • Cash Back gives customers the opportunity to earn up to 10% cash back on everyday purchases. Customers can opt-in and then connect up to three credit or debit cards and automatically earn cash back each time they spend at participating retailers nationwide. Based on customer location, the feature will surface cash back offerings nearby, allowing them to conveniently discover new retailers and great deals at places they already shop. Customers can invest the earnings in their favorite stocks or withdraw the money at no cost.

Bonus: Stash Banking is offering a $50 bonus if you deposit $300 within 30 days. Check it out here >>

The Cons of Stash Invest

The biggest drawback of Stash is the cost. $1 per month may not seem like a lot, but on a small portfolio, the percentage is very high. $1 per month is $12 per year. On a $100 investment that is 12% in investing fees. That’s incredibly hard to earn back, and those fees keep coming. That can really kill your portfolio’s earning potential.

When you look at $3 per month (or even $9 per month), you need to invest a large amount to make the fees competitive to other platforms.

Let’s look at an example to break it down. If you’re interested in Technology Stocks, you might consider investing in Stash’s Internet Titan’s ETF. This ETF is actually ticker symbol FDN, which is First Trust Dow Jones Internet Index Fund. This ETF has an expense ratio of 0.54% – which is pretty high for a domestic ETF.

If you want to invest in a similar ETF at Fidelity, you’d probably go with FTEC, which is Fidelity MSCI Information Technology Index ETF. It invests in the same companies, and it has an expense ratio of just 0.08%. It’s also commission-free to invest in. The Stash ETF alone is 6.75x more expensive to own than the fund at Fidelity. Plus, you have that $1/mo fee on top of it!

So, if you have a $1,000 investment in this fund, it would cost you (per year):

  • At Stash: $12 (the $1/mo fee) + $5.40 (the fund’s expense ratio) = $17.40
  • At Fidelity: $0.80 (the fund’s expense ratio) = $0.80

In percentage terms, your investment would end up costing about 1.74% per year in fees.

At Fidelity, it’s just the 0.08%. So, when you add in the monthly fees, it ends up being 21.75x more expensive to invest at Stash than Fidelity!! All those extra fees are doing is hurting your return over time.

I spoke to Stash about this to see if they had any comment. The person I spoke to justifies the high percentage in fees by looking at what the customer gets in return of spending only $1 a month.

For example, unlike Fidelity, Stash has a beautiful and easy-to-navigate app built specifically with the user in mind (millennials). When a customer signs up to Stash, they are not just there to invest. they are there to learn.

Fidelity doesn’t exactly talk the user through their investment decisions the way Stash does, using layman’s terms the user can understand. Moreover, many people never end up investing solely because there are too many options on platforms like Fidelity!

It turns out millennials may be willing to pay $1 a month, even if by percentage terms that’s a lot, to learn how to invest, get recommendations on what to invest in, and most importantly, form the investing habit.

Alternatives To Stash

But if you’re like me, and don’t like high fees no matter how convenient and pretty the app may be, then I recommend opening an IRA or brokerage account at a mainstream brokerage like TD Ameritrade or Fidelity. What most people don’t realize is that you can open an IRA with no minimum, you can get access to hundreds of commission free ETFs, and you have a great app to use. You essentially can build your entire diversified portfolio for free, on an app.

So, instead of paying high fees and investing in their custom ETFs, you simply get a regular “mainstream” account, can invest in the same ETFs, and experience no fees.

If you’re looking for something that allows you to buy small amounts, check out ​M1 Finance.

Final Thoughts

With Stash, it’s free to get started. This is perfect for anyone getting started. Plus, it’s so easy to understand!

A bunch of $5 investments can add up to something big.

If you want to get started investing but haven’t made the plunge, consider Stash, but also consider other options. For every investing style, there is likely a better and cheaper solution.

Investment advisory services offered by Stash Investments LLC, an SEC registered investment adviser. This material has been distributed for informational and educational purposes only, and is not intended as investment, legal, accounting, or tax advice. Nothing in this article should be construed as Legal or Tax Advice. For additional questions regarding Taxes, please consult a Tax Professional. Investing involves risk.

*Clients may incur ancillary fees charged by Stash and/or it’s custodian that are not included in the monthly Wrap-Fee.

1 Debit Account Services provided by Green Dot Bank, Member FDIC. Investment products and services are not offered by Green Dot Bank, are NOT FDIC Insured, Not Bank Guaranteed and May Lose Value. Account opening for the debit account is subject to Green Dot Bank’s approval.

2 Other fees apply to the debit account. Please see Deposit Account Agreement for details

3 Other fees may apply. Fee-free ATM access applies to in-network ATMs only. For our-of-network ATMs and bank tellers a $2.50 fee will apply, plus any additional fee that the Atm owner or bank may charge.

4 Early access to your direct deposit depends on deposit verification and when Green Dot Bank gets notice from your employer, and may vary from pay period to pay period.

5 Opt-in is required. In order to earn stock in the program, the Stash debit card must be used to make a qualifying purchase. Stock-Back Rewards that are issued to a participating customer’s personal brokerage account via the Stash Stock-Back Program, are not FDIC Insured, Not Bank Guaranteed and May Lose Value. Stash Stock-Back™ is not sponsored or endorsed by Green Dot Bank, Green Dot Corporation, Visa U.S.A., or any of their respective affiliates, and none of the foregoing has any responsibility to fulfill any stock rewards earned through this program.

6. What doesn’t count: Cash withdrawals, money orders, prepaid cards, and P2P payment. See full terms and conditions.

Nexushour.com Review: Is Nexushour Scam or Should I Invest?

An official website of the United States government

Here’s how you know

The .gov means it’s official.
Federal government websites often end in .gov or .mil. Before sharing sensitive information, make sure you’re on a federal government site.

The site is secure.
The https:// ensures that you are connecting to the official website and that any information you provide is encrypted and transmitted securely.

Ask questions. Fraudsters are counting on you not to investigate before you invest. Fend them off by doing your own digging. It’s not enough to ask for more information or for references – fraudsters have no incentive to set you straight. Take the time to do your own independent research. For more about information see Ask Questions.

Research before you invest. Unsolicited emails, message board postings, and company news releases should never be used as the sole basis for your investment decisions. Understand a company’s business and its products or services before investing. Look for the company’s financial statements on the SEC’s EDGAR filing system. You can also check out many investments by searching EDGAR.

Know the salesperson. Spend some time checking out the person touting the investment before you invest – even if you already know the person socially. Always find out whether the securities salespeople who contact you are licensed to sell securities in your state and whether they or their firms have had run-ins with regulators or other investors. You can check out the disciplinary history of brokers and advisers for free using the SEC’s and FINRA’s online databases. Your state securities regulator may have additional information.

Be wary of unsolicited offers.Be especially careful if you receive an unsolicited pitch to invest in a company, or see it praised online, but can’t find current financial information about it from independent sources. It could be a “pump and dump” scheme. Be wary if someone recommends foreign or “off-shore” investments. If something goes wrong, it’s harder to find out what happened and to locate money sent abroad.

Protect yourself online. Online and social marketing sites offer a wealth of opportunity for fraudsters. For tips on how to protect yourself online see Protect Your Social Media Accounts.

Know what to look for. Make yourself knowledgeable about different types of fraud and red flags that may signal investment fraud.

Red flags for fraud and common persuasion tactics

How do successful, financially intelligent people fall prey to investment fraud? Researchers have found that investment fraudsters hit their targets with an array of persuasion techniques that are tailored to the victim’s psychological profile. Here are red flags to look for:

If it sounds too good to be true, it is. Watch for “phantom riches.” Compare promised yields with current returns on well-know stock indexes. Any investment opportunity that claims you’ll receive substantially more could be highly risky – and that means you might lose money. Be careful of claims that an investment will make “incredible gains,” is a “breakout stock pick” or has “huge upside and almost no risk!” Claims like these are hallmarks of extreme risk or outright fraud.

“Guaranteed returns” aren’t. Every investment carries some degree of risk, which is reflected in the rate of return you can expect to receive. If your money is perfectly safe, you’ll most likely get a low return. High returns entail high risks, possibly including a total loss on the investments. Most fraudsters spend a lot of time trying to convince investors that extremely high returns are “guaranteed” or “can’t miss.” They try to plant an image in your head of what your life will be like when you are rich. Don’t believe it.

Beware the “halo” effect. Investors can be blinded by a “halo” effect when a con artist comes across as likeable or trustworthy. Credibility can be faked. Check out actual qualifications.

“Everyone is buying it.” Watch out for pitches that stress how “everyone is investing in this, so you should, too.” Think about whether you are interested in the product. If a sales presentation focuses on how many others have bought the product, this could be a red flag.

Pressure to send money RIGHT NOW. Scam artists often tell their victims that this is a once-in-a-lifetime offer and it will be gone tomorrow. But resist the pressure to invest quickly and take the time you need to investigate before sending money.

Reciprocity. Fraudsters often try to lure investors through free investment seminars, figuring if they do a small favor for you, such as supplying a free lunch, you will do a big favor for them and invest in their product. There is never a reason to make a quick decision on an investment. If you attend a free lunch, take the material home and research both the investment and the individual selling it before you invest. Always make sure the product is right for you and that you understand what you are buying and all the associated fees.

Where can I go for help?

If you have a question or concern about an investment, or you think you have encountered one of these frauds, please contact the SEC, FINRA, or your state securities regulator to report the fraud and to get assistance.

U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
Office of Investor Education and Advocacy
100 F Street, NE
Washington, DC 20549-0213
Telephone: (800) 732-0330
Fax: (202) 772-9295

Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA)
FINRA Complaints and Tips
9509 Key West Avenue
Rockville, MD 20850
Telephone: (301) 590-6500
Fax: (866) 397-3290

North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA)
750 First Street NE
Suite 1140
Washington, DC 20002
Telephone: (202) 737-0900
Fax: (202) 783-3571

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