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Check Out the Investment: Is It Registered with the SEC?

Take these steps to check whether a recommended investment is registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC):

Step 1: Ask the person offering the investment, "Is this investment registered with the SEC?"

If the answer is no, ask why the investment is not registered. Not all securities offerings must be registered with the SEC—such as those issued by municipal, state and federal governments. The SEC also provides exemptions for certain intrastate offerings and small public and private offerings under a rule known as Regulation D. For more information, read the SEC's Microcap Stock: A Guide for Investors.

Step 2: If yes, then use the chart below to help you check that this is in fact the case.

Where to CheckWhat You GetHelpful Hints

SEC—EDGAR Company Search

Call the SEC's Office of Investor Education and Advocacy toll-free at (800) SEC-0330 if you have trouble using EDGAR or have questions about a company or investment

  • Free public access to corporate information, including registration statements, prospectuses, annual reports with audited financial statements on Form 10-K and quarterly reports on Form 10-Q
  • Information about recent corporate events reported on Form 8-K
  • Confirmation of whether a company is using an exemption under Regulation D
  • Read the SEC's tips for researching investments using EDGAR and other tools.
  • Be alert to changes in the company's name and trading symbol, reported through SEC Form 8-K
  • Check if the company is filing current reports by looking for a 10-K report within the past year

Your State Securities Regulator

 

  • Information about the investment beyond registration status, such as whether a promotion appears in violation of state securities law
  • Ask if your state regulator is aware of any problems associated with the company or the type of investment
  • You can also contact the North American Securities Administrators Association at (202) 737-0900

Keep in mind that registration with the SEC does not guarantee that an investment will be a good one or immune to fraud. Likewise, lack of registration does not mean the investment lacks legitimacy. The critical difference is the extreme level of risk you assume when you invest in a company about which little or no information is publicly available. SEC registration carries a number of advantages for investors, including disclosure of financial and other information that can help investors assess whether to invest in a company's securities.

To check out the registration of the following types of investments, follow these steps:

Mutual Funds

Visit the SEC's EDGAR Mutual Fund Search. If you find the mutual fund there, then it is registered with the SEC.

Variable Annuities

Variable Insurance Products

Visit the SEC's EDGAR Variable Insurance Product Search. If you find your variable annuity or other insurance product, then it is registered with the SEC.

Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs)

Exchange-Traded Notes (ETNs)

Closed-end Funds

Visit FINRA Market Data. Click on the link that says Company Information in the far left column to search for your investment. If you find the ETF, ETN or closed-end fund on Market Data, it is registered with the SEC.

Additional Resources

SEC Registration and Filings
Search the SEC's EDGAR database for free access to public company registration statements, mutual fund prospectuses, quarterly and annual reports and more.

State Securities Regulators
Contact your state securities regulator to check whether an investment is registered for sale in your state.