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Protect Your Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) Account From Fraud -- Investor Alert

The SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy (OIEA) and Division of Enforcement Retail Strategy Task Force are providing tips for investors in the Thrift Savings Plan to help protect against fraud.

Most federal government employees, including military service members, are eligible to participate in The Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), a federal government-sponsored retirement savings and investment plan.  The TSP offers the same type of savings and tax benefits that many private corporations offer their employees under 401(k) plans.  The TSP website ( explains the benefits available to TSP participants.  

If you have a TSP account, you should be aware of fraudulent schemes aimed at TSP investors. 

Here are a few ways you can protect your account.

Be cautious if someone you do not know contacts you and tries to convince you to transfer money out of your TSP account.

Fraudsters may use scare tactics to convince TSP investors to transfer money out of their TSP accounts and into other accounts controlled by the fraudsters.  In some cases, they may direct investors to transfer money from their TSP accounts into self-directed individual retirement accounts.  To learn more about risks of investing through self-directed IRAs -- including fraudulent schemes -- read this Investor Alert.

SEC enforcement action.  In SEC v. Red Rock Secured, LLC et al., the SEC charged defendants for engaging in a fraudulent scheme through which they allegedly persuaded hundreds of TSP and other retirement plan investors to sell their existing securities, to transfer the proceeds into a self-directed IRA (SDIRA) account that the defendants helped to establish, and to invest the proceeds in gold or silver coins sold by the defendants.  According to the SEC’s complaint, investors who held securities in retirement accounts such as TSPs, 401(k)s and IRAs were targeted through numerous email campaigns, digital newsletters and advertisements.  The SEC alleges that investors were provided with false and misleading information, including regarding the markups charged on the coins sold, the value of the coins sold, and stock market performance.  As alleged in the SEC’s complaint, most of the proceeds that investors transferred to SDIRAs to purchase “premium” coins went to pay markups, which significantly depleted the investors’ retirement assets.

Be suspicious if someone offering you an investment claims to be affiliated with the government, the TSP, or government retirement plans.

The TSP will not contact federal employees about investment opportunities and does not authorize third parties to provide counseling or investment-related services to anyone.  You can confirm whether a seller is affiliated with a government agency by contacting the agency directly or calling the SEC’s toll-free investor assistance line at (800) 732-0330.  To learn more about fraudsters targeting TSP investors while pretending to be affiliated with the federal government, read this Investor Alert

Protect your TSP account (and personal information) from being compromised.

The TSP website describes the following three steps as well as other ways you can protect money you’ve invested in your TSP account from fraud:

  1. Make sure the contact information and mailing address on your account are correct.
  2. Protect your username, password, and ThriftLine PIN.
  3. Consider using the account lock feature for extra protection.

If you believe someone else has your My Account login information, you’ve experienced identity theft, or you receive any message about suspicious activity on your TSP account, contact the ThriftLine Service Center immediately.

If you suspect securities fraud in connection with your TSP investments, you can report it to the SEC using the SEC’s online TCR system.

Additional Resources

Investor Alert: Fraudsters May Target Federal Government Employee Retirement Plan Participants

Investor Alert: Self-Directed IRAs and the Risk of Fraud

Military webpage on

Report possible securities fraud to the SEC online at

Protect your hard earned money – learn more tips on investing wisely and avoiding fraud at

Call the SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy (OIEA) at 1-800-732-0330, ask a question using this online form, or email OIEA at  Receive Investor Alerts and Bulletins by email or RSS feed.

This Investor Alert represents the views of the staff of the Office of Investor Education and Advocacy. It is not a rule, regulation, or statement of the Securities and Exchange Commission (“Commission”). The Commission has neither approved nor disapproved its content. This Alert, like all staff statements, has no legal force or effect: it does not alter or amend applicable law, and it creates no new or additional obligations for any person.
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