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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Americans Lack Financial Savvy, Study Says

WASHINGTON -- Fewer than 20 percent of American investors are truly knowledgeable about financial matters, making millions of people easy targets for investment fraud, a new study says.

The survey, released Tuesday, sponsored by the Investor Protection Trust, a Virginia-based nonprofit organization, showed that only 18 percent of Americans who invest were financially literate.

Women and the elderly were even less savvy in financial matters, the survey said. It also found that two of three investors lacked a plan on paying for retirement, their children's college education or other basic needs.

The survey also found that nine out of 10 investors who use brokers or financial planners have never checked to determine if their advisers have any disciplinary record, the data showed.

"These are not encouraging findings for a society that is moving increasingly to a 'self-serve' approach to personal finance," Mark Griffin, the chief securities regulator of Utah and a trustee of IPT, said at a news conference. "If you don't understand what's going on with your investment ... you are openly courting fraud and abuse," he said.

IPT was founded in a settlement arising from charges of misconduct by Salomon Brothers Inc. in the government bond market.