Monday, January 26, 2015

Docu-ment drama: Should she sign?

DEAR HARRY: When my broker left his old firm to go with another, I moved my account with him. I recently received a document of more than 20 pages, all in small print, which was essentially a disclosure and disclaimer that seemed to do nothing but protect the firm. Do I have to sign it? There is so much in there that I'm not sure of everything it contains, and I don't like the idea of paying a lawyer to review it for me. Also, the new firm insists that I give them my SS number, birth date and maiden name. Is it possible that these could fall into wrong hands? What if I refuse to sign it?


WHAT HARRY SAYS: This is unquestionably a document that is required by law for full disclosure of just what their responsibilities are. For example, it contains a long-winded statement that they are not responsible for any losses you have on your investments. It also defines your responsibilities. For example, borrowing and repayment. You do not have to sign it. But if you don't, they will not accept your account, and you'll have to go elsewhere, where you will find a similar document presented to you. If you're still in doubt after reviewing it, a lawyer is your next step. As to your SS number and other personal information, they need this for IRS-reporting purposes to give sales and pension info. The likelihood of such info falling into the wrong hands is negligible.


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Harry Gross Daily News Personal Finance Columnist
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