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Plan Well, Retire Well

Saving and investing your money

Investment Fraud Can Happen to Anyone

All kinds of people are victims of investment fraud. A person's income or education does not protect them from fraud. Con artists are good at fooling people – that's how they make money!

But you can take a few simple steps to protect yourself. Before you invest, take time to check that both the investment and the person selling the investment are legitimate.

1. Check that the investment option you're interested in is registered with your state's securities regulator. If it is not registered, then this is likely a fake investment. Back away!

You can find contact information for your state's securities regulator at under Contact Your Regulator."

2. Who is selling you the investment? Check the financial professional's background and references.

In Illinois, a simple way to check a person's licenses and disciplinary records is to call the Illinois Securities Department, toll-free 1-800-628-7937.

In other states, contact your state's securities regulator. Your state securities regulator will also tell you if the financial professional has any disciplinary history.

Investment advisor firms need to register with the SEC (Security Exchange Commission) by filing Form ADV. You can check to see if this registration is on file at the SEC's Investment Adviser Public Disclosure website. Be sure the firm you are working with is registered.

You can also check if a broker is registered and the disciplinary history of a broker or a firm selling stock at FINRA's BrokerCheck.

If you can't find the salesperson in these two databases, then don't deal with them.

A few clicks on the Internet or a couple of phone calls can make a big difference in avoiding investment fraud. You worked hard for your money – take the time to research investments before you invest.

Now, that you know the basic steps to protect yourself from investment fraud, check out's Risk Meter to see if you are a high-risk candidate for fraud. This is a fun, quick quiz that gives you a good idea of what makes a person especially at risk for fraud.

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