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“Free Lunch” Seminars: Designed to Sell

"Free Lunch" Seminars: Designed to Sell - The Beacon


By: Beth

“Free Lunch” Seminars: Designed to Sell

money.pngIn 2007 a study was conducted by three agencies* that wanted to look at senior investment opportunities, as seniors were becoming the targets of more focused marketing attempts. The study conducted examinations of broker-dealers, investment advisers and other financial services firms that offer so-called free lunch sales seminars. The study reviewed advertisements, sales literature, customer transactions, policies and procedures.

What they found was that, even though the events were marketed as workshops or seminars, they were designed to sell. And about half of the examinations found instances of deceptive or exaggerated claims.

Free lunch seminars are common. And we have heard from many seniors who show interest in attending one or more in an effort to learn about investment opportunities. Your BBB recommends going in prepared and leaving informed. Here’s how:



Lastly, you can help agencies monitor these activities by taking along an AARP checklist and submitting it to their Free Lunch Monitor Program, which aims to help older Americans avoid being scammed out of their investments. (These checklists are shared with regulators who collaborate for this purpose.)

*Agencies conducting review:

SEC Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations

North American Securities Administrators Association

Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) 

Related posts:

Indiana Investment Watch Protects Consumers From Fraud

BBB Urges Consumers to Make Smart Solar Energy Investments

Senior Investment Fraud


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Beth was Director of BBB Services and wrote for the consumer education blog from 2008 to 2011. Beth also managed projects of the Tri-State Better Business Bureau Foundation, including the Student of Integrity Scholarship and senior citizen education programs, and she worked with local charities as a part of our charity reporting service.