RIP-OFF ALERT: Financial advice shows fill up weekend programming on AM radio stations across the country. But are all the hosts on the level?

A reporter at The Denver Post  looked into 14 weekend programs in the Denver metro area that have an investment focus. Only 2 hosts were found to be on the up and up.

The other 12 were found to have "histories that include personal bankruptcies, federal and state income tax liens, investigations by federal and state regulators, allegations of Ponzi schemes, lawsuits by jilted clients, even the loss of a job because of questionable conduct."

Know this: Many programs that air on the weekends are purchased blocks of times. They're basically infomercials that are packaged to sound exactly like programming you get on your local station. But they are not necessarily like the unbiased advice you usually get on your radio dial.

So listening involves great caution on your part. Many times the weekend slots are heavily purchased by the insurance industry, which uses the programming as guise to con you into purchasing annuities.

Of course, 2 of the 14 hosts examined by The Denver Post were legit, so I have to be very careful in addressing this topic. Around the country, I know many fellow financial talk show hosts and they do legitimate, honest jobs of giving investment advice. Some of the advice they give may differ from mine, but it's still legit.

Here's one telltale sign you're listening to a purchased infomercial masquerading as a radio show: Most stations will run an ID at the top of the hour saying, "You are listening to a paid commercial hour," or something similar. Also, when you hear something packed with testimonials like, "I bought your system and I can't believe how much money I made!," well, that's another tip-off.

As a general rule, people who give unbiased investment advice on weekend radio will be people who answer a variety of questions, and the answer doesn't always come back to single product like an insurance product.

There are hard working and honest people out there on the airwaves. You've just got to know the difference.

Editor's note: This segment originally aired June 2011.

Image of Clark Howard About the author: Clark Howard

Clark Howard is a consumer expert whose goal is to help you keep more of the money you make. His national radio show and website show you ways to put more money in your pocket, with advice you can trust. View More Articles

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