People called this Boca hotline. They got $4.3 million. Here’s why.

Rates of return that don’t match the slick sales pitch. Unauthorized trades to drive up fees. Even IRS impersonation scams.

Two years after its launch in Boca Raton, a financial regulatory group’s investor helpline isn’t just logging financial mischief and mayhem. It has helped return more than $4.3 million to callers, organizers say.

A helpline based in Boca Raton  takes callers of all ages but is especially focused on seniors, said Susan Axelrod, executive vice president of regulatory operations for the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. (Brianna Soukup/The Palm Beach Post)

More than 9,200 callers have ranged from age 17 to 102, Financial Industry Regulatory Authority officials said.

“FINRA is committed to protecting senior investors, and our dedicated helpline staff has done a great job responding to callers’ questions, recognizing and addressing concerns around certain products and issues, and promptly escalating relevant matters,” said Susan Axelrod, executive vice president of regulatory operations. “The helpline’s success is also due in large part to firms that are proactively assessing issues raised to them by helpline staff and making customers whole where appropriate.”

The hotline’s formal two-year anniversary came April 20.

Who’s calling? Take the 92-year-old who said a company representative traded  368 times in four registered accounts without authorization. FINRA barred the representative and the company offered to settle.

Another senior said he was told a certificate of deposit would pay 2.5 percent to 3.5 percent a year, but the paperwork showed that was over the six-year life of the contract. The investor got a refund.

The group can also help investors check the records of brokers for problems or disciplinary actions.

Got a question or problem?

The FINRA helpline is free. Call 1-844-574-3577.

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