The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has issued a warning to investors and financial service firms that there are con-artists claiming to be SEC employees seeking sensitive information to use to defraud. These fraudsters have tricked individuals into revealing private information and, in some cases, into sending money and other assets to the fraudster. Further, these con-artists have impersonated SEC examiners to obtain confidential information from broker-dealers and investment advisors. Often, the fraudster claims that they are conducting an “emergency” investigation.
It should be remembered that the SEC never makes or endorses investments nor do they participate in money transfers. The SEC wants folks to also know that they do not send emails asking from detailed personal information or other sensitive financial information.
The SEC advises that if you are contacted by someone claiming to be an SEC employee you can verify their employment by asking for the caller’s name, the SEC office where they are employed, and their telephone number. With this information you can then call the SEC’s personnel locator at (202) 551-6000 and ask to speak directly with that SEC employee. Also, if you are contacted by someone claiming to be an SEC employee you can report the call to the SEC by calling (800) 732-0330 or emailing them at email@example.com.
In summary, if someone purporting to work for the SEC calls you, make sure to verify their employment first and do not give out any information without verification from the SEC of their employment. Further, remember the SEC does not ask for money transfers or personal information via email.
It is always a good rule of thumb to NEVER give out personal or financially sensitive information over the phone or email without first verifying who the caller is and why they need such information. Often, if you question a caller, who is seeking to defraud you, of their identity and purpose behind the need for the information, the caller will hang up. Additionally, if a person is legitimate then they will understand your need to verify who they are and why they need personal or sensitive information. Finally, it is also a good practice to tell the caller you will call them back at their place of employment to give them any information. If they refuse to give a call back number, do not give them any information.
Jason Doss is the owner of The Doss Firm, LLC, an Atlanta-based law firm devoted to representing consumers across the country in a variety of areas including investment disputes and consumer class action litigation. Mr. Doss earned his J.D. from Florida State University in 2002 and his B.A. from the University of Florida in 1997.