You did your research and thought you found a favorable investment opportunity, but then things go south quickly. In the aftermath, you begin to suspect fraud or misrepresentation. What recourse do you have?
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) exists to protect investors and maintain fair markets. If you feel your broker misrepresented investment information or even committed fraud, you can file a complaint with the SEC.
Gather your info
Before submitting your complaint gather any pertinent information you have. This could include specifics about a transaction or details about broker misconduct. Gather supporting documents such as correspondence regarding transactions, financial statements and canceled checks. The more information you provide, the easier it will be for the SEC to investigate your complaint.
Complaints cannot be filed anonymously so be prepared to provide your name, address and contact information. Your privacy will be protected, but your information may be shared with third parties, such as law enforcement or other government agencies, for case progression.
Filing your complaint
Once you've gathered all your documentation together, it's time to file. Complaints can be filed online through the SEC's encrypted website or via mail if you are worried about online security.
Depending on your complaint you have the option to send the complaint form to the investment company. In most cases filing a complaint without also notifying the investment firm will be noted in the SEC records, but no further action will be taken.
What happens next?
The information you provide will go through the SEC channels to the appropriate office. The Division of Enforcement reviews complaints and any investigations are confidential. The SEC cannot disclose information about investigations, or even acknowledge the existence of investigations until they become public record.
For information about litigation releases and administrative proceedings, review the SEC enforcement webpage for current details.
Remember, investments, unlike bank transactions, are not guaranteed. Protect your assets by doing thorough market research and understanding the risk associated.