Call for Action success: How to protect your retirement savings from scammers

MADISON, Wis. — A Call for Action success story is giving us a reason to remind you to change your password – it could save you $215,000.

News 3 Now’s Call for Action team comprises more than a dozen volunteers with varied backgrounds and years of experience in their fields – from healthcare and education to finance and communications. Their goal is to help solve consumer complaints by mediating with the company in question – and we often amplify their stories to help viewers learn from their expertise.

Terry is one of the team’s newer volunteers, coming to News 3 Now after spending 30-plus years as a securities regulator and lawyer for finance firms. Within his first few weeks, he solved a CFA case worth close to a quarter-million dollars. It started with a call from a local farmer named Dennis, who was locked out of his retirement accounts fter hackers stole his email, his passwords, and all communications with his brokerage firm.

“What Dennis discovered later on through the brokerage firm is through August to November of last year, there were 27 unauthorized transactions in his retirements accounts, totaling a loss of $215,000,” Terry told us. “As you can imagine, you’re not getting the right answers and you found out that amount of money was taken from your retirement… [he was] very frustrated, deeply concerned, and you certainly can’t blame him.”

Terry helped Dennis navigate conversations with his brokerage firm, which law enforcement and watchdog agencies to alert and what his next steps should be – and with Terry’s guidance, Dennis received every penny back, plus interest.
Terry tells us Dennis’s story isn’t that uncommon. So we asked Terry to share his top three tips to avoid scams like these altogether.

  1. Check what your brokerage firm does to protect your retirement savings. It should be on their website. If you can find one with a 100 percent security guarantee – Dennis’s did – it’s a good bet to go with that company.
  2. Pick a good password and change it often. That would have protected Dennis’s email, accounts and $215,000 out of his retirement.
  3. Keep an eye on your statements. Review them monthly, if not weekly, and be on the lookout for unusual changes.

“Because really the burden is on the consumer here to make sure their monies are secure,” Terry told us. “The [brokerage] firm can do certain things to help, but it’s up to you to monitor, and make sure everything is going on.”
Were you a victim of a scam, or do you have a consumer story to tell? Contact our Call for Action volunteers at