Investments take risk; sometimes a little, sometimes a lot. But smart investors know the best way to minimize risk is to educate yourself about your basic rights, the protections you are entitled to under the law, and the common scams and frauds to avoid. The Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota has teamed up with the FINRA Investor Education Foundation to bring you up-to-date research and tools on investment fraud at BBB Smart Investing.
Studies have shown investment scams have risen in the last decade. Baby Boomers are managing their own retirement funds and are particularly vulnerable. In 2011, according to the North American Securities Administrators Association, state and provincial regulators in the United States, Canada and Mexico launched more than 2,600 administrative, civil and criminal enforcement actions involving investors, one in five of whom were seniors.
The BBB and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority suggest three key steps to take before investing:
• Check out the seller. A legitimate investment professional must be licensed. Before giving out your personal information, ask whether the seller is registered with FINRA, the Securities and Exchange Commission or your state securities regulator. Find registration and other information on individual brokers, securities firms and investment advisor firms at: www.SaveAndInvest.org/CheckSeller.
• Ask questions. Are they licensed? Is this investment registered with the SEC?
• Check out the investment. Check whether the investment itself is registered. Confirm whether a security is registered with the SEC and get access to a company’s financial information by using the SEC’s EDGAR Database. Learn how at www.SaveAndInvest.org/CheckInvestment.
The mission of the Better Business Bureau is to be the leader in building marketplace trust by promoting, through self-regulation, the highest standards of business ethics and conduct, and to instill confidence in responsible businesses through programs of education and action that inform, assist and protect the general public. We are open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Contact the BBB at bbb.org or 651-699-1111, toll-free at 1-800-646-6222.