Investor Protection & Securities:: Investor Education
Investor Protection Hotline
The Secretary of State’s toll-free Investor Protection Hotline (800-721-7996) has been established for reporting complaints or making inquiries about broker-dealers, agents, investment advisers, investment adviser representatives, or general securities violations.
Check out your Broker or Adviser
In addition to using our toll-free Hotline to check the credentials and professional history of your broker or adviser, you may wish to check with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA,” formerly the NASD). FINRA’s BrokerCheck program, allows investors to check the registration and professional background of FINRA-registered firms and agents on-line. Because of the limited nature of information that is contained on this on-line search, investors may wish to also call the Investor Protection Hotline at 1-800-721-7996. The Securities Division will provide additional information about your broker, including regulatory actions that have been taken against the broker and investor complaints that have been reported to the Central Registration Depository.
To find out about an investment firm you may go to the SECs website at http://www.sec.gov.
Publications for Investors
The Securities Division of the Missouri Secretary of State's Office offers several publications to help investors protect themselves against fraudulent investment schemes. The Variable Annuities: A Basic Guide examines the questions you should consider before investing in a variable annuity.
View the Securities Division's complete list of publications for investors.
Complaints and Enforcement
The enforcement unit of the Securities Division of the Secretary of State receives and investigates complaints from Missouri investors. These investigations involve alleged violations of the registration and antifraud provisions of the securities law. Each year the staff receives more than 300 complaints from investors.
These investigations may result in administrative actions or court orders that prohibit further violations of the law. As part of civil enforcement, the secretary of state can seek civil penalties, victim restitution and an award for the state’s investor education fund. In addition, the commissioner may refer matters for criminal prosecution to local prosecutors, the attorney general, or the U.S. Attorney. The audit unit performs unannounced examinations of broker-dealers and investment advisers to make sure that both the firms and their employees are in compliance with Missouri Securities Laws.
You can learn how to file a complaint with the Securities Division and download the complaint form to expedite the process.
The registration section of the Securities Division reviews applications to register securities under a “merit review.” This review is intended to assist issuers in making full disclosure of important information, as well as determining if the offering is “fair, just and equitable.” The staff also reviews claims of exemption from registration.
Licensing of Brokers and Advisers
The licensing unit in the registration section regulates the activities of broker-dealers, agents, investment advisers, and investment adviser representatives. Members of the licensing staff register approximately 1,700 broker-dealers, 93,000 agents, 1,100 investment advisers and 4,000 investment adviser representatives annually. After review, the registration section may register the applicant or refer the matter to the enforcement staff, which may request that the securities commissioner deny, suspend, or revoke an individual or a firm’s registration.