Stop for a minute and think about all the time and effort you have invested in making sure you have a good life after you one day retire.

Now stop for a minute and wonder how all of that good could be gone in just a short period of time, the result of one or more people swindling you out of your money. If you think it can’t happen, think again.

Investment fraud is an issue out there, an issue that consumers must always take seriously. Otherwise, they could be on the outside looking in when it comes to relatively peaceful retirement.

So, will you avoid investment fraud?

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Be Proactive and Protect Your Investments

When it comes to protecting your hard-earned investments, it is important that you always take a pro-active approach.

Some of the ways to do just that:

  • If it is too good to be true – You’ve heard that old adage if it is too good to be true…. Yes, that adage certainly holds true when it comes to your financial well-being. As you navigate life, always make sure that you have a major focus on where your hard-earned money is going. Whether an offer comes in-person, in the mail, via email, always make it a point to understand clearly what someone is trying to offer you regarding your investment portfolio. It just takes one error to set you and your finances back years;
  • Make the time to breathe – There are some things in life that you can do in a split-second, though properly handling your finances is not one of them. Always take the time to understand what you are doing with your finances, along with what someone (investment broker etc.) wants to do with them. As they always say, make sure you read the fine print before signing off on anything. If something sounds even the least bit questionable and/or suspicious to you, be sure to get a clear explanation of it;
  • Educate yourself – No, you’re likely not an investment expert, but that does not mean you can’t educate yourself over time when it comes to something so important. If you’re not sure on how best to educate yourself on investments, there are myriad of sites online (see more below), so don’t use the excuse that you do not know where to go to find information. Along with doing Google searches of major investment companies, there are plenty of investment experts who blog regularly online. You can do a simple Google search for that need too. As you educate yourself, try not to digest everything at once. Take things in a little at a time, giving you a better opportunity to understand everything;
  • Socialize the experience – Along with visiting investment websites, social media is another great tool to educate you. Sites such as Facebook and Twitter can be great for doing just that. Many investment companies and those in that industry have Facebook fan pages, offering a variety of information on not only their individual brands, but also the industry as a whole. On Twitter, you will see a lot of sharing when it comes to investment hashtags. Once again, the learning you can do on such a site can prove invaluable over time. Lastly, social media is all about engaging others, so be sure you talk to others (both investment company experts and those looking to invest or currently doing just that). The conversations can prove quite valuable to you as you look to increase your investing knowledge over time.

As you look at your investments, view them as almost having another part-time job.

The key is to having a plan in place so you can properly manage your assets over the years.

Yes, it takes some time and effort to manage your investments, but never forget about how important they are, especially as you get closer to near retirement.

Along with making the best investments over time, it is important to do your best to steer clear of fraud too.

There are many people out there (notably criminals) looking to make your investment life miserable.

If you’re going to stay one step ahead of them year after year, be sure you are educated in the decisions you make.