It's gotten so that fraudsters are scamming even the most financially astute people, including financial planners. All you have to do is take a gander at some of the online bulletin boards used by private investors and you will undoubtedly find plenty of confessions from those who have been virtually duped into buying worthless shares of stock.

Of course, not wanting to expose themselves, these confessors use different names to relate what they have lost to some of these so-called advisors. Naturally, it includes how stupid they felt after being fleeced. However, scams are on the rise throughout the world and you need to protect yourself and your clients against them in every way possible.

The first and most prevalent is the boiler-room scam where the caller relies on greed to rope the potential client in. It's generally known as the "once-in-a-lifetime" opportunity. Actually, it wasn't that long ago that I got hooked by my own family with sons who were touting me on "great deals." I lost my shirt and shoes with those stocks.

Boiler-room victims are usually sold worthless shares or even stocks that don’t really exist. In my own situation, these were actual stocks I was touted but as soon as I bought them, they rapidly became worthless.

The latest technique centers itself on the September 11th attacks. You get a frantic call from someone telling you that a certain company is now offering a new security device. I've heard from my colleagues in London that this includes stuff like eyeball recognition technology or even slimming devices. Don’t ask me what this has to do with a terrorist attack.

One aspect of the caller's identification should be noted and kept in the forefront of your mind: the more polite the voice, the more suspicious you should be.

Remember, these people all claim to have inside info on whatever it is they are selling and as I said before, it is either stock that simply doesn't exist or has a price attached to it that was raised artificially.

In addition, watch that credit card of yours. It's been revealed that credit and debit cardholders have been targeted, as well. The tactic here is to get you to reveal vital card security details over the phone. For example, the caller has a script to inform the cardholder that a fictitious transaction has taken place on their account. For instance, you are told that your card has been flagged for an unusual purchase and you are being called to verify the correct account. The victim is then asked to reveal a three-digit code printed on the back of the card to confirm it is not lost or stolen but still in the person's possession. If you choose to give out that number, then the rest, as they say, is history.

The final one that must be scrutinized is where computer hackers attempt to obtain information from people using the Internet. This usually involves certain official-looking e-mails, which appear to be from banks, and is sent to the consumer asking for full details such as passwords, PINs, and account numbers. The e-mail simply invites potential victims to get onto a bank's Web site under the pretense of verifying account details but the link in the e-mail sends recipients to a forged Web site that looks almost identical to the bank's site.

Word of caution. Never go to a bank's Web site through a link received in an e-mail. Always call the customer support number rather than the one given in such e-mail.

By the way, scams are not limited to the U.S. It's become a worldwide venture…or adventure.

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