The Securities and Exchange Commission today unveiled a public service announcement (PSA) to encourage investors to check the background of their investment professional by using the free search tool on Investor.gov before investing. Investor.gov, the SEC’s website dedicated to individual investors, provides investors with tools and resources to help them invest wisely and avoid fraud.
“Investor education is an important line of defense against fraud and is critical to our efforts to both protect Main Street investors and improve their financial decision making,” said SEC Chairman Jay Clayton. “Through public service announcements, investor alerts and bulletins, and direct outreach, the SEC will continue to focus on empowering investors.”
“It can be hard to spot a fraudster, and Investor.gov’s free search tools can help investors verify that they are dealing with a registered investment professional,” said Lori Schock, Director of the SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy. “Investors who check the background of their investment professional and use the other tools and resources available on Investor.gov can make more informed investment choices – and better protect themselves from fraud.”
The PSA’s storyline involves a couple seeking advice from an alleged investment professional who turns out to be a fraud. At first, the investment professional seems genuine, but as the conversation continues his fraudulent scheme quickly unravels. He uses high-pressure sales tactics – typically a red flag of fraud – to persuade the couple to invest, with statements such as:
· You are definitely getting in at the perfect time
· This investment opportunity will not last long
· I can guarantee that your money will double
· There’s absolutely no risk to youThe SEC's latest PSAs encourage investors to check the background of their investment professional.
The PSA stresses that most fraudsters are not this easy to spot and encourages investors to visit Investor.gov before investing.
More than 9 million new users have used Investor.gov since it launched in October 2009. The SEC expanded its outreach program in 2016 to include PSAs to reach and educate more investors. Since that time, the traffic on Investor.gov has increased by 86 percent.