Don’t get fooled by impressive-sounding credentials like these:

• Certified senior adviser
• Certified retirement financial adviser
• Certified retirement counselor
• Registered financial gerontologist

They look good, but only take a few days to earn. In contrast, these credentials require a college degree and years of study:

• Certified financial planner
• Chartered financial consultant
• Master of science in financial services (MSFS)

In 2011, so many broker-dealer firms were using misleading designations that the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority issued Regulatory Notice 11-52 cautioning about the practice. In 2013, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Office of Older Americans reported that there are more than 50 senior certification designations now in use. A copy of the report can be found right here.

The name-game isn’t limited to financial advisers. It seems as if everyone involved in the senior market has added a credential or two to the business card.

If you are presented with a card and a sales pitch, ask these questions:
• What do the initials stand for?
• What organization accredited you?
• What is the name of the website?
• What were the requirements to become accredited?

Not only will you sound smart, it may just keep you from getting scammed.