Tools of the Trade: BrokerCheck and Scam Meter

NCPW

By Christopher Pugh, Fall 2014 Student Intern

toolsEvery day, we make important decisions about finances, health, privacy, technology and more. National Consumer Protection Week is March 1 -7, 2015 and we will be bringing you several posts discussing ways consumers can protect themselves against scams, fraud and even just bad decisions. Fortunately, with today’s technology, there are many tools that can help consumers avoid making bad decisions that will negatively affect their overall financial health.  Follow this week’s posts for links to some of those tools and some general advice on consumer protection.

Our friends at FINRA are always a great source for consumer protection tools, especially in the area of consumer investments. One of the best tools available for fighting investment fraud is FINRA’s BrokerCheck website. BrokerCheck is a free publicly accessible FINRA database that allows investors to research the educational and professional backgrounds of current and former brokers and brokerage firms registered by FINRA.  BrokerCheck includes information such as current licensing status and history, employment history, and, if any, reported regulatory, customer dispute, criminal and other relevant matters. It is a useful tool for all potential investors to use before making any investment decisions with a particular broker or brokerage firm.

Another great tool for consumer investors is FINRA’s Scam Meter. The Scam Meter ask a short series of questions that help consumers detect a scam before they get involved.  The tool works from the general rule of thumb that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

For more great financial tools and calculators visit the FINRA Investor Education Foundation’s website at Saveandinvest.org.