Due to the aging U.S. population, the financial exploitation of seniors has become a serious problem. In order to combat some of the issues faced by senior investors, on April 20, 2015, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) launched the FINRA Securities Helpline for Seniors (“Helpline”). The Helpline is a toll-free number (844-57-HELPS) that senior investors—or individuals caring for a senior—can call to get assistance from FINRA staff or ask questions about their brokerage accounts and investments. The Helpline is available Monday – Friday, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (Eastern). If FINRA is unable to resolve an investor’s concerns during the call, the customer will get a return phone call or be referred to another agency for help.
On April 20, 2017, FINRA marked its second anniversary of the Helpline by announcing that member firms have made “$4.3 million in voluntary reimbursements to callers since [the Helpline’s] launch on April 20, 2015.” In its first two years of operation, the Helpline “fielded more than 9,200 calls from all 50 states from individuals ranging in age from 17 to 102 years old (the average age of callers is 70 years old), and staff have referred nearly 650 matters to state, federal and foreign regulators, and made more than 130 referrals to Adult Protective Services under the mandatory reporting laws of 16 states.” The success of the Helpline led to recent rule changes addressing the financial exploitation of seniors (see FINRA Rule 2165, Financial Exploitation of Specified Adults).
In connection with the Helpline’s two-year anniversary, FINRA’s Executive Vice President of Regulatory Operations, Susan Axelrod, said, “FINRA is committed to protecting senior investors, and our dedicated helpline staff has done a great job responding to callers’ questions, recognizing and addressing concerns around certain products and issues, and promptly escalating relevant matters. The helpline’s success is also due in large part to firms that are proactively assessing issues raised to them by helpline staff and making customers whole where appropriate.”