SEC encouraging investor professional background checks

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has launched a public service announcement (PSA) encouraging investors to check investment professional backgrounds by using the free search tool on

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“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,” SEC Chairman Jay Clayton said. “Through public service announcements, investor alerts and bulletins, and direct outreach, the SEC will continue to focus on empowering investors.”

Officials said is the SEC’s website dedicated to providing investors with tools and resources to help them invest wisely and avoid fraud.

SEC officials said the PSA’s storyline involves a couple seeking advice from an alleged investment professional who turns out to be a fraud. Initially, the investment professional seems genuine, but as the conversation continues, his fraudulent scheme quickly unravels, as he uses high-pressure sales tactics, typically a red flag, to persuade the couple to invest.

The SEC’s latest PSAs encourage investors to check the background of their investment professional, emphasizing most fraudsters are not easy to spot, encouraging investors to visit before investing. The PSAs are in video and audio format.

Officials said more than 9 million new users have used since it launched in October 2009. The SEC expanded its outreach program in 2016 to include PSAs to reach and educate more investors.