WHEN SHOULD YOU COMPLAIN?
What should you do if you believe that you have a problem with or have been
mistreated by your stockbroker, investment adviser or brokerage firm?
- FRAUD. If you think that youíve been cheated or otherwise taken advantage of
by a financial professional, contact a regulatory organization or organizations immediately. Keep in mind that, in most cases, regulators will not be able to get your money back.
- TRADING ERRORS AND OTHER PROBLEMS. Complain directly to the brokerage or investment advisory firm in writing and keep a copy for your own records.
First communicate your concerns to your broker, then to the manager of your
brokerís or advisorís office. Keep a copy of the complaint in your records.
Follow-up immediately if you do not receive a satisfactory response to your
complaint. If you get no response to your letter or you feel like the firm
is stalling you should complaint to the appropriate regulatory agency or
WHERE SHOULD YOU FILE A COMPLAINT?
First complain to the state securities agency in the state where your live.
You can also complain to one of the following two organizations: the U.S.
Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or the National Association of
Securities Dealers (NASD). Why not complain to both
NASD and the SEC? The following explains which agency you
should contact and when.
Your State Securities Agency
Every state has a regulatory agency that is in charge of grassroots consumer protection, including, in most cases, regulation of stockbrokers, investment advisors and brokerage firms. To find the state securities agency where you live, go to the North American Securities Administrators Association ďFind a RegulatorĒ page and look up your
state. Every state agency listed there has a phone number or email address
that you can use to contact them.
National Association of Securities Dealers
The NASD is a federally chartered industry self regulatory
organization (SRO) that oversees brokerage firms, stockbrokers and
investment advisors. NASD is an enforcement organization that
operates independently from the Nasdaq stock market. Who should file a NASD customer complaint? A customer complaint may be filed by an investor, or a person
acting on behalf of an investor, who feels that he or she has been dealt
with improperly by a stockbroker, investment advisor or brokerage firm. A
customer complaint will be most appropriate for individuals who been
directly victimized by brokerage firm misconduct.
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
The primary mission of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is
to protect investors and maintain the integrity of the securities markets.
The SEC oversees the key participants in the securities world, including
stock exchanges, broker-dealers, investment advisors, mutual funds, and
public utility holding companies.
- To file a complaint with the SEC, go to the Commissionís online complaint
area (www.sec.gov/complaint.shtml) to find the form that makes the most
sense for your case.
- To forward investment-related spam (junk email) or copies of suspicious
postings on stock market message boards, go to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Complaints about misconduct should be directed to the SECís online complaint
form (same link as in previous bullet).
Are you an investor outside of the United States? While the jurisdiction of
NASD ends with members of the National Association of Securities
Dealers, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission deals with any firm
that sells securities to U.S. investors, regardless of their
location. The SEC Web site features a "warning" that is directed
exclusively at foreign investors.
Non-U.S. investors may be able to get more help by visiting the Web site of
the International Organization of Securities Commissions to
determine which securities regulator outside of the United States is the
right one to contact.
HOW SHOULD YOU FILE A COMPLAINT?
Regulators need details to help you. Accurate and complete information is
crucial. Though you are not required to furnish any more information than
you wish, the key information will include:
- Your name, mail and email addresses, and telephone numbers.
- The name, mail and email addresses, telephone numbers, and Web site (or
email) address of any individual or company you mention in the complaint.
- Specific details of who, what, when where and how you were defrauded or
encountered problems. . Be as specific about what your broker told you about
the investment as possible. It is best to tell your story in chronological
order as possible.
Check with the agency where you are complaining to see if they have a
specific complaint form. This may save you time later.