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RELEASE: pr7356-16

  • April 7, 2016

    CFTC’s 2016 SmartCheck Week to Emphasize Continual Background Checks of Financial Professionals

    Consumers Are Encouraged to Use Free Online Tools to Perform Annual Check between April 11-17

    Washington, DC — When it comes to checking the background of financial professionals, investors should not take a “one and done” approach. It is wise to check the background of the person or entity at least annually. The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) is emphasizing the importance of this annual check during this year’s SmartCheckSM Week – April 11-17.

    The CFTC encourages investors to check the background of their financial professionals before investing their money and to do continual checks for the time they are entrusting them with their money. It is easy with SmartCheck.gov, which provides access to free tools that investors can use to check a financial professional’s background including his/her registration status, job history, and disciplinary actions.

    According to recent research, only 22 percent of investors check to see if their financial professionals hold current licenses or if they are registered with a government or self-regulatory organization. Another startling statistic is that only 16 percent check for past violations. It is critical that investors research financial professionals as diligently as they do investment opportunities, and that they perform these checks annually to ensure that the professional’s record has not changed.

    “If investors take a little time before investing and at least once every year use the tools on SmartCheck.gov to ensure their financial professionals have the stamp of approval required, they can greatly decrease their chances of losing their hard-earned savings,” said CFTC Chairman Tim Massad. “What better time to advise investors of this important action than during National Financial Capability Month.”

    CFTC SmartCheckSM, a national campaign that launched in November 2014, helps investors identify and protect themselves against financial fraud, through free online tools, including the website SmartCheck.gov. The website also includes other helpful information such as red flags that could signal that investors might be dealing with a fraudster.

    Additionally, visitors to SmartCheck.gov can test their susceptibility to fraudulent pitches via interactive videos that allow them to experience a simulated investment sales pitch and decide if they wish to continue the conversation.

    We are extremely pleased with the success we saw following the first-ever SmartCheck Week last year,” said Dan Rutherford, Director of the CFTC’s Office of Customer Education and Outreach. “We are hoping to build off of that success and continue to provide resources and tools for consumers to identify fraudulent pitches and protect themselves from financial fraud.”

    Last Updated: April 7, 2016