Fraudulent Practices in the Sale of Indexed Annuities

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If approached by your broker (or financial advisor or insurance agent) to purchase an indexed annuity there are some things an investor should consider.  First, an indexed annuity (also known as, equity-indexed annuity or fixed indexed annuity) is a fixed annuity, either immediate or deferred, that earns interest or provides benefits that are often linked to an equity or stock market index.  In 2008, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), an association of state insurance regulatory officials, issued a buyers guide to indexed annuities, which provides educational information on indexed annuties.  Did your broker provide you with one?  The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) also published an investor alert on indexed annuities.

Unscrupulous brokers take advantage of naïve, unsuspecting investors, especially
seniors, and heavily pitch purchases into indexed annuities.  Often they will tout indexed annuities as being better than bank CDs and will convince investors to liquidate their CDs to buy an indexed annuity.  Investors with variable annuities are often approached by a broker to buy indexed annuities, touting them as being safer than then variable annuity, which has investment choices whose principal can be subject to market volatility.  Did the broker recommend you to consider moving money into the fixed account of the variable annuity?  If not, the broker is probably only motivated to earn a commission which can be as high as 5%.  Another fraudulent tactic is to entice an investor with an “upfront bonus” to buy an indexed annuity but what a devious broker may not tell you is that often you would have to annuitize the annuity in order to take advantage of the bonus benefit – it’s not free money, there’s a cost to every benefit in an annuity.  Other brokers may convince you that the annuity they sold you earlier is now out-of-date and try to sell you another annuity claiming to have “better and more features.”

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