Investor Bulletin: Top 10 of 2017

12/21/2017

With 2017 coming to a close, here are the SEC Office of Investor Education and Advocacy’s top 10 most popular Investor Alerts and Bulletins for the year.  These resources, all available on Investor.gov, can help you make more informed investment decisions – and avoid investment fraud – in 2018.  If you have questions, don’t hesitate to contact us at help@sec.gov, our online question form, or on our toll-free investor assistance line at (800) 732-0330.  

  1. Initial Coin Offerings

Developers, businesses, and individuals increasingly are using initial coin offerings, also called ICOs or token sales, to raise capital.  These activities may provide fair and lawful investment opportunities.  However, new technologies and financial products, such as those associated with ICOs, can be used improperly to entice investors with the promise of high returns in a new investment space.  There are potential risks with participating in ICOs that you should learn more about.

  1. Public Companies Making ICO-related Claims

Investors should be aware about potential scams involving companies claiming to be related to ICOs.  These frauds can include “pump-and-dump” and market manipulation schemes involving publicly traded companies that claim to provide exposure to this new investment space.  The SEC issued several trading suspensions on the common stock of certain issuers who made claims regarding their investments in ICOs or touted coin/token related news. 

  1. Beware of Stock Recommendations on Investment Research Websites

Investors are warned that seemingly independent commentary on investment research websites may in fact be part of paid stock promotion campaigns.

  1. Robo-advisers

The availability and popularity of automated digital investment advisory programs, often called robo-advisers, is growing.  Robo-advisers allow individual investors to create and manage their investment accounts through a web portal or mobile application, sometimes with little or no interaction with a human being, with the potential benefit of lower costs than traditional investment advisory programs.  Learn more here.

  1. Fraudsters May Target Federal Government Employee Retirement Plan Participants

The millions of participants in federal government employee retirement plans, including the Thrift Savings Plan, are warned that investment scam artists may pretend to be affiliated with a government agency.  Federal government agencies, including the SEC, do not endorse or sponsor any particular securities, issuers, products, services, professional credentials, firms, or individuals.  If someone offers you an investment opportunity and claims any affiliation with the federal government, follow these tips.

  1. Understanding Order Types

There are different types of orders you can use to buy or sell stock through a brokerage firm.  Learn more here.

  1. Protecting Your Online Investment Accounts From Fraud

As with all web-based accounts, investors should take precautions to help ensure that their online investment accounts remain secure.  These online security tips can help protect your accounts from fraud.

  1. Crowdfunding for Investors

Securities-based crowdfunding provides an opportunity for the general public to participate in the early capital raising activities of start-up and early-stage companies and businesses.  Because of the risks involved with this type of investing, however, you are limited in how much you can invest during any 12-month period in these transactions.  If you are interested in securities-based crowdfunding, you should learn more about these risks and restrictions.

  1. Celebrity Endorsements

Celebrities, from movie stars to professional athletes, can be found on TV, radio, and social media endorsing a wide variety of products and services—sometimes even including investment opportunities.  But a celebrity endorsement does not mean that an investment is legitimate or that it is appropriate for all investors.  It is never a good idea to make an investment decision just because someone famous says a product or service is a good investment.

  1. New T+2 Settlement Cycle – What Investors Need to Know

The SEC recently shortened the standard settlement cycle for securities transactions from T+3 to T+2, subject to certain exceptions.  Since 1993, the settlement cycle had been T+3.  To learn more about how the new T+2 settlement cycle will affect the transactions you place with your brokerage firm, go here.


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 or tax law.

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You can check out the background of an investment professional by using Investor.gov.  It’s a great first step toward protecting your money.  Learn about an investment professional’s background, registration status, and more.  

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