Former NASD Attorney Debra G. Speyer Provides Tips for Protecting Your Nest Eggs

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In preparation of filing taxes or making decisions about allocating funds in 2011, this time of year investors review their financial statements. Like most people, you may have suffered a loss. But don’t be so quick to chalk it up to the economy.

“Poor performing stocks, mutual funds and other investments are not necessarily a product of the economic climate,” says Debra Speyer, an attorney who represents people who have lost money in the stock market. “The problem may stem from bad advice or misconduct on the part of a too-eager or unscrupulous financial advisor.”

Speyer should know. Formerly with the enforcement division of FINRA (Financial Information Regulatory Authority), she now has a law practice focused on helping people recover their money after they’ve been deceived by brokerage firms.

It can happen to anyone. Larry Hagman, J.R. on “Dallas,” sued Citigroup and his broker over a $1.35 million loss. (The case is pending an appeal as reported in The New York Times' DealBook.) “Big sums make big headlines,” Speyer says, “and the Hagman case demonstrates just how devastating investment fraud is. Investors trust adviser to keep their interests in the forefront. But that’s not always the case.”

So how do you know if you’re a victim of investment fraud? Dig out those 2010 statements and ask yourself the following:

  •     Did the broker ask about your investment objectives or discuss your risk tolerance? Then did he follow your objectives and recommend a plan that met them?
  •     Are there investments on your statements that you did not authorize?
  •     Did your statements include multiple purchases and sales every month?
  •     Did your broker purchase investments on margin without your permission?
  •     Did your planner neglect to adequately explain an investment?
  •     Did the investment continue to plummet even when the broker assured you it was a conservative or low-risk investment?
  •     Did you read the account forms thoroughly?

An attorney with experience representing investors can help you determine if you have a solid case against your brokerage firm. Just don’t wait to make the call. “Some states have statute of limitations that will limit the amount of time that you can bring a claim, and FINRA, the organization that administers the arbitration program, limits the time you can bring a claim as well,” Speyer notes.

Debra Speyer is a securities litigator with a national securities law practice. Before going into private practice in 1990, Debra was an attorney with the Enforcement Division of the National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD, now FINRA) prosecuting brokers for investment fraud and regulatory violations.

Debra is frequently quoted in periodicals such as Newsweek, Kiplinger's, USA Today, US News & World Report, Arrive, Philadelphia Inquirer and Newsday. Debra is a lecturer for the Pennsylvania Bar Institute and other legal education programs on the subject of securities fraud and she has been a co-lecturer with the former Pennsylvania Securities Commissioner on the subject of investment fraud. She is listed in Philadelphia Magazine's Best Lawyers issue for her work handling securities fraud. She is also listed in Who's Who in American Law and Who's Who in America. She was honored by the National Organization of Women Business Owners with the "Women Making History" award. She is also an adjunct professor of law at Drexel University in Philadelphia.

Debra is licensed to practice law in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut, New York, Florida and Washington, D.C., and is also a member of the British bar. She is also a member of American Bar Association and the Public Investors Arbitration Bar Association. Please visit


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