Unsolicited Investment Pitches: Don’t Answer! Hang Up! Delete!

Don't Answer! Hand Up! Delete!

By Lori Schock, Director of the SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy 

Do you get annoyed by unknown phone callers or emails and texts from people you don’t know? I know I do. Do you know what annoys me the most? Getting calls, texts, and emails from people asking me for money to invest in a supposedly “once-in-a-lifetime” investment opportunity.  

If you get an unsolicited phone call, text, or email from someone asking you for money, it’s probably a scam. Your very first line of defense against investment fraud is to not answer phone calls or open any texts or email messages from any number or person you don’t recognize. Your second line of defense is to hang up or delete right away. Taking these immediate actions is your best protection against investment fraud.  

Unsolicited Phone Calls 

Our first instinct is to be courteous and listen to what someone has to say. However, if you don’t hang up the phone right away, unsolicited phone callers making fake investment pitches may try to lure you into a conversation and pry personal information out of you by using certain persuasion tactics.  

For example, the fraudster may tell you that the investment opportunity won’t last long and that it’s a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.” If you haven’t done so already, hang up! They’re trying to use your fear of missing out on something to try to get you to make a rushed decision. 

These scammers are often friendly, fast-talkers and may boast that they have impressive education and financial experience credentials. Hang up! 

They may guarantee that you can make a lot of money overnight, maybe even become a millionaire. They also often tell you that they’ve made a lot of money for other people. Hang up! 

They may try to confuse you with a lot of numbers and financial mumbo jumbo about an investment program that may sound impressive, but is actually pure fiction. The fraudsters hope you’ll be intimidated by them and won’t want to ask any questions. Hang up! 

All of these are red flags of investment fraud. Don’t fall for any of it! I can’t say it enough−hang up, hang up, hang up! 

Unsolicited Emails and Texts 

Fraudsters also reach out through email and texts trying to entice you into investing in their fake online investment opportunity. By clicking on a link from someone you don’t know, you’re not only exposing yourself to a computer hacker who will try to steal your personal information, but you may also be led to a fake online investment program. Delete! 

These fake online investment pitches often use sensational videos to grab your attention and try to tempt you into investing your hard-earned money. Delete! 

The scammers use eye-catching graphics, fake testimonials, promises of great wealth, high guaranteed returns, and exclusive access to a made-up investing program. The opportunity may look legitimate, but it is totally bogus. Delete! 

All of these are red flags of investment fraud. Don’t become a victim of an online investment scheme−delete, delete, delete! 

Protect Yourself 

You can best protect yourself by steering clear of all unsolicited investment offers. You can also check out our anti-fraud campaign, called “HoweyTrade,” which shows you what investment scams can look like, along with a video to help you learn how to spot and avoid fraud. 

Here are some steps you can take: 

  • Don’t invest with unsolicited offers. You should always be the one to take the first step when it comes to investing.  
  • If you’re using an investment professional, make sure they’re registered by doing a background check on Investor.gov.  
  • Conduct your own independent research on every investment opportunity and don’t feel rushed into making a decision.   
  • Make sure you understand the risks involved in any investment, and don’t put your money into anything you don’t understand.  

Know that if you turn over your money to fraudsters, it’s very unlikely you can ever recover your losses. To better protect yourself from investment fraud, check out the free tools and resources on Investor.gov. When it comes to unsolicited phone calls, texts, and emails, just remember these words: Don’t Answer! Hang up! Delete! 

Note: Director’s Take articles are written in a short, non-legalese format intended to provide you with tips and information on timely investment topics that are important to you. You can subscribe to receive Director’s Take articles or find our latest article on the Director’s Take spotlight page

The Securities and Exchange Commission disclaims responsibility for any private publication or statement of any SEC employee or Commissioner. This article expresses the author’s views and does not necessarily reflect those of the Commission, the Commissioners, or other members of the staff.