smart spending

9 ways to build wealth in 2011

Do your due diligence
9 of 11
John Breyault

John Breyault, director of the National Consumer League's Fraud Center:

To build wealth that you can rely on, vet the adviser and the investment thoroughly, Breyault recommends. Some red flags:

  • Guaranteed returns. "There's no such thing as a guaranteed return," he says.
  • Pressure. "If it's a good investment opportunity today, it will be a good investment opportunity tomorrow."
  • Nothing in writing or a reluctance to share information you could present to a third-party. "If it's a significant sum of money, I wouldn't hesitate to run it by an attorney," Breyault says.
  • A significant upfront sum. "You shouldn't have to invest more than you're comfortable with," he says.

Also, "you should be able to get your money out easily," Breyault says.

Tip for success: Run investments and their representatives past state protection agencies such as the office of consumer protection and the state attorney general's office, he says. Also check with business sources such as the Chamber of Commerce and the Better Business Bureau.

Check with regulating authorities such as the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, or FINRA, BrokerCheck, the Federal Communications Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission. And verify any degrees and accreditations directly with the bodies that offer them.

And run a Google search on the company name, principals and basics of the investment.




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