AARP Eye Center
If your home’s been burglarized, you know exactly whom to call: your local police. But whom do you call if you think a broker, insurer, bank or scam artist has taken advantage of you? Here are some common complaints and concerns, and where to take them.
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Is my investment adviser legit?
The cop: Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
How it can help: At adviserinfo.sec.gov, you can look up investment advisers or brokers and learn about their business and past disciplinary issues. Visit investor.gov (under Get Help); there you can learn how to file an investment-related complaint about a company or financial professional.
Its larger mission: The SEC makes sure that the public markets for stocks, bonds and other investments are operated fairly and efficiently. That includes, for example, going after suspected Ponzi schemes and making sure that companies don’t give false information to their stockholders.
Note: You should also check with your state securities regulator. You may be eligible for money recovered from criminals. But that might be far less than your losses.
I told my broker I wanted low-risk investments, but he ignored me.
The cop: Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA)
How it can help: If you have a dispute with a broker, you can go to FINRA to file a complaint or request arbitration or mediation. At brokercheck.finra.org, you can also check a broker’s or firm’s experience and past problems. FINRA’s toll-free Securities Helpline for Seniors (844-574-3577) is available to answer questions and address concerns.
Its larger mission: FINRA oversees U.S. brokers and brokerage firms. It sets rules for sales practices, disciplines misbehavior and provides a forum for investor complaints.
Note: Even if your broker has violated industry rules, FINRA can’t guarantee you’ll get back any money that you may have lost.