Tuesday, December 18, 2012

FINRA and BBB Launch Smart Investing Website to Educate Consumers on Financial Fraud

By Maria Li

The FINRA Investor Education Foundation in conjunction with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) announced the launch of their new website, BBB Smart Investing, last Friday. Smart Investing provides investors with “tools and information to help [them] better protect and manage” their money.

One useful feature that we've noted on the blog before is the FINRA BrokerCheck, a free search engine for disclosures, regulatory action and fines against brokers and brokerage firms. The search generates a report which provides comprehensive background information on investment professionals and firms. BrokerCheck provides investors with an easy way to research their broker or brokerage firm before committing to an investment. For example, a search for Morgan Keegan & Company, Inc. generates a FINRA BrokerCheck Report that shows the firm’s profile, history, operations, as well as a detailed list of 48 regulatory events and 189 arbitrations.

Another useful tool on the Smart Investing website for public investors is Ask and Check, which includes tips on how to detect investment fraud and steps for identifying scams. The website also has a list of upcoming events with detailed information on where workshops are being held.

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), financial consumer fraud was responsible for $1.5 billion of losses in 2011. The BBB Smart Investing website will serve as an online tool to educate consumers on financial fraud and prevent investment scams. This partnership will combine the investigative skills of the BBB with the financial expertise of the FINRA Foundation, providing consumers with another great source of financial education.

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