Recovery Plan: FTC Creates Website to Assist Identity Theft Victims

By Christopher Pugh, Fall 2015 Intern

Identity theft can be a life altering event for its victims if immediate action is not taken after the theft. This can be a scary and frantic time for the victim who does not have a plan to counteract the consequences of identity theft. Because the victim is the party most likely with the burden of proving their innocence in any fraudulent transactions, taking swift action can not only reduce losses due to theft, but also create a record for the victim that can help prove innocence to would be creditors.

To help Americans in taking action to fight the negative consequences of identity theft, the Federal Trade Commission has created a new website with a detailed plan that victims can follow. The Identitytheft.gov website is an interactive plan that is divided into three easy to follow checklists: (1) What to do Right Away, (2) What to do Next, and (3) Other Steps. Each section of the plan offers drop down menus that detail each step complete with phone numbers to credit reporting agencies, sample letters to creditors, and website links with even more resources.

Additionally, the plan provides extensive information on how to report identity theft to the local and federal authorities. The checklist plan will even generate your Identity Theft Affidavit for submission to the Federal Trade Commission, and it is all easily printable for your records.

For more information on how to recover from identity theft, visit the SEC’s Investor.gov website or the Federal Trade Commission’s Identitytheft.gov website.

Managing Someone Else’s Money: Guides to Taking Care of Older Americans

By Christopher Pugh, Fall 2015 Intern

With Americans living longer than ever before, many people find themselves with the responsibility of managing the money of an elder family member at some point in their lives. Since most people have never been in this position before the need arises, it can often seem like a stressful and daunting responsibility. While there is no replacement for the sound legal advice of a lawyer in these matters, it is helpful to be as informed as possible. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) Office for Older Americans provides free online publications that can help you understand what a fiduciary agent is and what duties they owe. Continue reading

PAUSE Before You Invest: The SEC Publishes a List of Unregistered Soliciting Entities that Claim to be Registered

By Christopher Pugh, Fall 2015 Intern

Each year the SEC receives complaints from investors and regulatory bodies about solicitations promoting investments that are supposedly endorsed by U.S. governmental agencies or registered with these agencies when they are not. Whether or not a particular investment entity is registered with the SEC is significant because registration means that the investment entity has made itself available for SEC oversight and regulation. Making a false claim of registration with a governmental agency can make a fraudulent scheme seem like a legitimate investment to the unsuspecting investor.

To combat fraud, the SEC is publishing a list of all the unregistered soliciting entities that it has investigated in review of these complaints. The list is called the Public Alert: Unregistered Soliciting Entities or PAUSE. Of course the list does not contain the name of every fraudulent unregistered entity, only the entities the SEC has received complaints about. To use PAUSE, investors should follow the link and use the alphabetical search feature to search for the name of the investment entity they are considering. If the relevant entity’s name appears on the PAUSE list, then that entity is not registered with the SEC, and the SEC has received a complaint concerning this entity.

In an effort to thwart even the diligent investor, some of these fraudulent entities will use the same name as a reputable and registered firm. To combat this, the SEC also publishes a list of Impersonators of Genuine Firms. Of course, if the investor finds the name of the entity they are researching on this list, they must then determine if they are dealing with the real registered firm or the unregistered impersonator.

For more information on how investors can protect themselves from fraud, visit the SEC’s Investor.gov website.

What’s in a Name? : Designations Used by Financial Professionals May Not Mean as Much as You Think

By Christopher Pugh, Fall 2015 Intern

Some financial professionals use designations such as “senior specialist” or “retirement advisor” to imply that they are experts at helping senior citizens with their investment decisions. While these professionals may be experts at helping seniors with investments, the designations they are using to market themselves are not evidence of their expertise. The Securities Exchange Commission and FINRA do not endorse “senior specialist” or “retirement advisor” designations. When an investor sees these designations after a financial professional’s name, they must keep in mind that these designations can be given by many different professional organizations that may sometimes require very little effort or experience to receive the designation. Continue reading

Career Building: Law School Clinics are a Great Way to Start Building Your Professional Network Early

By Christopher Pugh, Fall 2015 Intern

pughA law school clinic is a great way for law students to network and make important connections in the legal profession. In today’s legal market, one of the big challenges for law students is getting enough work experience before they graduate. Students with work experience in their chosen area of practice will have an advantage in their job searches. But sometimes finding the right internship can prove difficult for students if they do not have a network of legal professionals to guide them, and most law students do not begin law school with such a network already in place. In addition to providing real-world work experience itself, my work with Georgia State Law’s Investor Advocacy Clinic gave me a great start on my own professional network, which led to a summer internship job that expanded my network further while providing me with invaluable work experience. Continue reading

IAC Welcomes New Student Interns

Investor Advocacy Clinic Shoot

The Investor Advocacy Clinic kicked off its fall 2015 semester with three new student interns, Alexandra Hughes, Bryan Rafie and Kelly Robinson.  Our new interns will join three returning student interns, Christopher Pugh, Jason Robinson and Darius Wood, in representing clients who suffered damages as a result of broker misconduct.

Investor Advocacy Clinic Shoot

During a day-long boot camp led by Professor Nicole Iannarone and Adjunct Professor Jason Doss, the new student interns received hands-on training related to their work in the clinic.  Students began collaborating and developed goals for the semester to come.

The student interns have since jumped into the clinic’s work.  Under attorney supervision, students are working on several FINRA proceedings filed on behalf of the clinic’s clients.  Interns also field calls and other inquiries, evaluating whether investors may have claims against their brokers.

Tools of the Trade: Tools to Know Your Own Personal Risk

NCPW

By Christopher Pugh, Fall 2014 Student Intern

meterFor National Consumer Protection Week, we have focused on several tools to spot scams and fraudsters as well as tools to educate consumers. But an important part of being an informed consumer is to have some level of self-awareness. That is, knowing what characteristics about yourself make you more vulnerable to certain types of scams, or more likely to make bad financial decisions.  Financial self-awareness is just understanding where you are vulnerable to remove fraudsters’ ability to make you a victim.  Fortunately, there are some helpful tools to determine what these weaknesses are and how to guard against them. Continue reading