Last spring, FINRA launched a Securities Helpline for Seniors – known as HELPS – as a resource for senior investors with questions and concerns. With the country’s growing population of senior citizens, who are often targeted in fraudulent and deceptive investment schemes, the HELPS line is just another resource in FINRA’s recent push to protect our aging population.
The HELPS line launched on April 20, 2015, and through December 2015, more than 2,500 calls had been placed through the hotline. The average age of the caller was 70 (though the actual age range was 22 to 100), and the calls lasted an average of 25 minutes each. In 2015, HELPS staff assisted callers in recovering $750,000 in voluntary reimbursements from securities firms.
FINRA is also using data collected during calls to assist it with its regulatory goals. By tracking trends in the calls placed to the hotline, FINRA can more readily issue Investor Alerts on topics of current interest. For instance, after a spate of calls about transfer on death accounts, FINRA issued an Investor Alert about that specific topic.