Whether you are investing on your own, working with a financial professional, planning your retirement, or just interested in learning more about investing generally, here are ten ways you can use Investor.gov to become a more informed investor and avoid fraud.
1. CHECK THE BACKGROUND OF YOUR INVESTMENT PROFESSIONAL
Investor.gov has a free and simple search tool that allows you to find out if your investment professional is licensed and registered, and if he or she has a disciplinary history or customer complaints. It’s a great first step toward protecting your money.
2. EDUCATE YOURSELF ABOUT INVESTMENT PRODUCTS
Understand common investment products, such as stocks, bonds, and mutual funds, or find out more about the risks and unique characteristics of a wide variety of investment products.
3. USE ONLINE TOOLS TO MAKE INVESTING SIMPLER
Investor.gov has one of the most popular compound interest calculators on the web, which includes a mobile-friendly calculator as well as a savings goal tool that can help you determine how much money you need to contribute each month in order to arrive at a specific financial goal. The site also provides access to a wide range of other free financial planning tools.
4. LEARN HOW TO AVOID INVESTMENT FRAUD
Learn about common types of investment fraud, including those found online and in social media, pyramid schemes, penny stock or “microcap fraud,” and binary options fraud, among others. Take these simple steps to avoid these scams.
5. STAY CURRENT WITH SEC RESOURCES
Investor.gov features timely and topical Investor Alerts and Bulletins, and links to Twitter and Facebook posts that describe a wide variety of investing-related topics and news. Sign up for updates.
6. START RESEARCHING PUBLIC COMPANIES
Companies that offer stocks, bonds, or other securities for sale to the public must provide information to investors periodically. For tips on how to read public company filings, including the annual report on Form 10-K and the Current Report on Form 8-K, read Using EDGAR – Researching Public Companies.
7. CONSIDER THE FEES ASSOCIATED WITH ANY INVESTMENT
All investments have fees and they can add up in a hurry. Investor.gov will help you understand the fees of any investment you are considering.
8. UNDERSTAND HOW MARKETS WORK
Get the basics on how stocks are traded, including information on types of orders, types of brokerage accounts, and executing an order. Investor.gov has a page devoted to how stock markets work.
9. PLAN FOR RETIREMENT
Explore a wealth of information about retirement topics such as employer-sponsored plans, managing lifetime income, avoiding retirement fraud and understanding senior specialists’ designations. Use Investor.gov’s 401(k) and IRA Required Minimum Distribution Calculator to determine how much you are required by IRS regulations to withdraw from your retirement fund at various ages.
10. FIND CONTACT INFORMATION FOR THE SEC
If you have questions about investing, call the SEC’s investor assistance line (800) 732-0330 or email Help@SEC.gov. You can also report a problem concerning your investments or report possible securities fraud to the SEC.
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.