The SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy (OIEA) urges investors to check the background of anyone selling or offering them an investment. No matter how good an investment may sound, verify that the person is currently registered or licensed and check his or her background by using the free and simple search tool on Investor.gov.
Using the search tool on Investor.gov to check the background of an investment professional is a great first step toward protecting your money. The search tool provides information about anyone who is registered and licensed, including certain information about criminal or civil legal proceedings, regulatory actions, customer complaints, employment terminations, and bankruptcy filings. Even if someone is currently registered or licensed, be careful if you spot any of these potential red flags in the person’s background:
- Disciplinary actions by a government regulator (including the SEC) or a self-regulatory organization (including FINRA);
- A history of customer complaints;
- Lawsuits or arbitration claims brought by customers; and
- Employment with one or more firms that have been expelled from the securities industry.
You also can use the SEC Action Lookup - Individuals (SALI) feature on SEC.gov to find information about certain people who have had judgments or orders issued against them in SEC court actions or administrative proceedings.
Visit Investor.gov, the SEC’s website for individual investors.
The Office of Investor Education and Advocacy has provided this information as a service to investors. It is neither a legal interpretation nor a statement of SEC policy. If you have questions concerning the meaning or application of a particular law or rule, please consult with an attorney who specializes in securities law.