Bill Would Prohibit Marketing Gimmicks Designed to Trick Seniors, Retired Persons
A bill sponsored by Senator Jim Whelan which would prohibit securities sales professionals from using misleading titles or non-existent professional certifications to fool senior citizens into investing their money was approved by the Assembly yesterday by a vote of 78-0, receiving final legislative approval.
“New Jersey seniors should be enjoying their retirement years, not worrying about bad investments that they were conned into making,” said Senator Whelan, D-Atlantic. “This bill would prohibit deceptive stock and securities marketing techniques which are designed to target the fixed incomes of senior citizens and retired individuals living in the Garden State. We cannot allow unscrupulous salespeople to enrich themselves at seniors’ expense.”
The bill, S-1745, would make it a dishonest or unethical business practice for individuals to use misleading certifications or deceptive professional designations to imply that the individual has special training or expertise in advising or servicing senior citizens or retirees in connection with security sales, which include stocks, bonds, notes and investment contracts. Under the bill, an unlawful use of a senior-specific certification or designation would include: a certification or professional designation not actually earned or otherwise available for use; a non-existent or self-conferred certification or professional designation; a certification or designation that expresses or implies a level of qualification obtained through special education, training or experience but which is not actually obtained; or a certification or designation obtained from an organization that is primarily concerned with sales or marketing, or does not have reasonable professional standards for monitoring the competency of certificate holders.
Under current law, securities sales professionals charged with dishonest or unethical business practices would be liable for civil and criminal penalties, as well as the denial, revocation or suspension of their security broker’s registration with the New Jersey Bureau of Securities.
“For folks who’ve worked their entire lives and scrimped and saved for retirement, we cannot look the other way when con artists use misleading sales pitches to bilk people out of their retirement funds,” said Senator Whelan. “This bill would crack down on meaningless marketing ploys designed to build a false sense of security for retired stock and securities consumers. This bill would expose phony, made-up titles and deceptive certifications for what they truly are – unethical and illegal breaches of the consumers’ trust.”
The bill now heads to the Governor to be signed into law.