The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards says that more than 140 designations exist in financial services, but that investors don't have a good way to know which ones are the most meaningful. It wants the CFPB to create a rating system for designations.
It's unclear when the CFPB will act on any of these suggestions.
Meanwhile, seniors should take measures to protect themselves.
"The best thing we can do is warn them so that these things don't happen in the first place," Korenblit says.
Seniors are most likely to be exploited if they're isolated, so Korenblit advises staying connected by joining a club or senior center so others know what is happening in their lives.
Korenblit's advice to seniors: If you set up a joint account or give someone power of attorney to act as your agent on financial matters, make sure the person is trustworthy. If you select someone who has drug or financial problems, Korenblit says, your money may be too tempting for that person to resist.
If you do set up a power of attorney, have a family discussion about it, AARP's Hurme says. Make sure that the agent understands his or her responsibilities and that other family members know what their role is in helping the agent do the right thing, she says.
Maryland's securities commissioner, Melanie Senter Lubin, warns that older investors these days are more susceptible to false promises of high returns because banks have been paying such low interest rates.
"People are worried more so now about outliving their money," she says. "That makes people more vulnerable to chasing returns."
Marylanders can check out a financial adviser's background by calling the state at 410-576-6360.
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