A new survey reveals that fake financial news has the potential to be a real serious problem, and it’s impacting Americans’ ability to make retirement, investment and healthcare decisions. Fake news is nothing new, but increased awareness of the threat it places on financial decision-making can help keep Americans from being lured into making decisions that will hurt them financially. To help Americans navigate the sea of information and misinformation out there, the AICPA National CPA Financial Literacy Commission offers the following tips:
- Before hastily making an investment decision based on an article or headline, do your due diligence. Quickly reacting to market-moving news, real or fake, can be tempting but most investment plans are designed for the long term. If you have a pressing financial question, ask the Money Doctors – a panel of qualified CPAs that have attained the Personal Financial Specialists (PFS) credential for comprehensive financial planning.
- Be suspicious of headlines making outrageous claims and articles with incorrect grammar and multiple typos. Always research the source if you’re unfamiliar with the outlet and read some of their other articles. Look into the author and their sources to confirm that they are authentic. Inadequate evidence or extensive use of unnamed experts may suggest a false news story. Always corroborate the story with other reports.
- Watch out for website spoofing – the practice of impersonating legitimate websites and posting content that appears as though it is from that site. Fake financial news articles published on these websites have the appearance of being from a credible source, but are actually designed to mislead readers.
- Closely scrutinize sponsored content and advertorials. These articles are often designed to look like reported content to sell products, but are actually outside of a news organization’s editorial content.
- Look out for pranks. Fake news can sometimes be hard to tell apart from humor or satire and many people can be misled. Check to see if the source is known for parody and the article is a joke - particularly if you see it shared on social media rather than on the source website.