Tuesday, December 27, 2011

13 Useful Tips to avoid Investment Fraud

1) Always ensure to use your own pen while filling application form and/or cheques. The era of frauds using invisible ink of agents has just begun and ensures to put lines in the blank areas both in the cheques and application, not leaving space for anyone to fill the blank columns. In case the application is filled by the agent, read all the writings carefully and ensure that, the data filled is correct and matches with your records.
2) Always ensure to write application number, your name, mobile phone no., fund/scheme name at the back of the cheque. If you're giving renewal premium cheque, write your policy/folio number also.
3) Check for renewal date and payment frequency carefully in your policy document. It has come to notice that many agents had taken the cheque from customers for yearly mode or half-yearly mode & has submitted the documents on monthly mode. If possible use online premium payment.
4) Deal with only certified financial planner, AMFI certified distributor or IRDA certified insurance agent. Do not deal with sub-brokers as they're not fully trained and do not have complete knowledge about the products they are selling on behalf of the main agent.
5) Always check the identity card of the person to whom you're dealing with. Check the company name and date of validity of the card. Generally, IRDA license is valid for 3 years and AMFI license is valid for 5 years from the date of issuance / renewal.
6) Do not blindly trust anyone even if you know him / her from several years. Always ask for official brochure of the product you're dealing with and see everything written there. Read all fine prints carefully and ensure that, whatever your agent explained to you related to the products are correctly matching with official offer documents or the policy proposal form.
7) Ask for official illustration of the insurance product or fact sheet of mutual fund before investing. In most of the cases the investment returns and other benefits explained in the illustration is based on some assumptions. In 90% cases the agent will try to convince you that, the return worked out in the illustration should be guaranteed and you are going to receive all the benefits at the maturity of the investment. This investment mistakes had happed to so many investors those who have invested in ULIP policies issued by insurance companies and badly burned their fingers. Lakhs of people are victims of this scam ( I can confidently use the word scam here, because the poor investors are cheated by the agents and insurance companies showing unimaginable returns and other benefits … otherwise we can call this as day light robbery). Mostly all insurance products are long term in nature. After 10-20 years, if happened something wrong also, who is going to complain and you will not be able to trace your agent also.
8) Understand the product fully before investing to ensure that the investment you are making is match with your risk appetite and return expectations
9) Insist your adviser to show the comparison with other competitive products. You may like some feature of other product which your advisor does not like.
10) Note down the your agent / distributor full contact details before submitting application forms like full name, ARN No. or IRDA license no., branch address & phone no., residential address & phone no. – mobile phone & landline, email address etc.
11) Always put the date where ever you sign.
12) When you get your policy bond / statement of account/ investment certificate, check all the details like your name, contact details, nominee name and other relevant details. Go through all the documents. Pay attention to the charges portion carefully. Insurance companies normally give photocopy of your filled application form along with your signed official illustration with policy bond. If you're not satisfying with the terms and conditions, you can return the original policy bond with 15-days free look-up period and get your money back.
13) When ever you sign on a document having multiple pages, ensure to sign in all pages

- Umesh Shanmugam

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