Trading commodity futures, options, foreign currency, or crypto assets is complex, and can be highly leveraged. The use of margin and time-limited contracts means traders can make large profits in a short amount of time, or amplify their losses, face margin calls, and not have the benefit of time to smooth out unexpected volatility. Whenever people enter the markets but don’t know the terrain or understand the risks, they can unknowingly become targets for fraud. Billions of dollars every year are lost to investment fraud, and billions more are lost to fraud in cash markets for crypto assets, precious metals, or leveraged over-the-counter foreign exchange trading. This unfortunately falls to some of the most vulnerable populations who do not have the resources to start over.
The Office of Customer Education and Outreach was created to combat fraud, and to give people the tools to watch out for fraudulent activity. The office is responsible for helping people and potential customers spot, avoid, and report fraud. This requires the office to work closely with internal and external stakeholders to monitor and identify current and developing fraud trends, develop timely and effective educational materials, messages and outreach strategies, and alert the public to products, situations, or behaviors that could make them targets for crime. The office also utilizes social and traditional media, organizational outreach, and public events, to raise awareness about fraud prevention and resources available to report fraud.
About the Office
OCEO has three main work streams: Research and evaluation, educational content development, and outreach. The research and evaluation team is tasked with identifying developing fraud trends and other risks to customers. It also assists in education content development by identifying audience demographics, media preferences, and intervention opportunities, and evaluates initiative designs to ensure they’ve met learning goals. The content development team is tasked with designing and producing multi-media educational content. The outreach team is tasked with public engagement, relationship building, and establishing strategic educational partnerships.
OCEO regularly collaborates with private, non-profit, and public-sector partners to build financial literacy, improve investor education, and fight fraud. To learn more, email [email protected], or visit Learn & Protect to read Advisories & Articles developed by OCEO, or view educational Videos and Publications.
OCEO was created as part of the implementation of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which created the CFTC’s Customer Protection Fund (CPF). The CPF is a revolving fund made available to the CFTC without further appropriation or fiscal year limitation to make payments to whistleblowers and pay for “customer education initiatives designed to help customers protect themselves from fraud or other violations” of the Commodity Exchange Act. Each year, the CFTC submits an annual report to Congress regarding OCEO’s customer education activities, the Whistleblower Program, and the CPF.
The office is housed within the CFTC’s Office of Public Affairs.
Dan Rutherford, Associate Director, Customer Outreach
Lynda F. Williams, Chief Customer Risk Officer