The SECs Office of Investor Education and Advocacy
The SEC's Office of Investor Education and Advocacy is dedicated to serving the needs of individual investors.
We provide a variety of services to address the problems and questions you may face as an investor. We cannot tell you what investments to make, but we can provide unbiased information on investment choices and on protecting yourself from securities fraud or abuse.
The Office of Investor Education and Advocacy has three main functional areas:
If you have suffered wrongdoing at the hands of a broker or investment adviser, the Office of Investor Assistance wants to hear from you. We will contact the firm, company or individual who is the subject of the complaint to find out what happened. Sometimes, this results in a satisfactory resolution of the complaint. Other times, it's unclear who is right and who is wrong. In that case, we let investors know their legal options and how they can pursue a resolution on their own.
We have a staff of dozens of investor assistance specialists nationwide who stand ready to help you. Each year, we receive tens of thousands of calls, e-mails, web-form submissions, and letters from investors who had complaints or questions.
Complaints are extremely important to us. You may think you're the only one experiencing a problem, but typically, you're not alone. Sometimes, it only takes one investor's complaint to trigger an investigation that exposes an illegal boiler-room operation, a Ponzi scheme, or an insider-trading ring. In recent years, investor complaints led, at least in part, to approximately 20% of all cases investigated by the SEC.
If you have any questions, comments or problems, don't hesitate to contact us through our online complaint forms or question form or our hotline, (800) SEC-0330 (toll-free in the U.S.) More information is available on how we handle your complaints.
Our specialists also research and provide information, such as whether a broker or investment professional is properly licensed to do business with you, or whether a company is registered with the SEC. We field questions on a range of other topics, including the worth of old stock certificates, and what to expect from bankruptcies and reorganizations.
The Office of Investor Education carries out the SEC's investor education program. It produces and distributes information, including online and print publications, to help you become a better-educated investor. It participates in educational seminars and investor-oriented events, and offers an annual teacher training program in Washington, D.C., focused on financial education. In addition, the Office partners with federal agencies, state regulators, and others on investor literacy initiatives.
The Office of Policy reviews SEC action from the perspective of the individual investor, including conducting investor surveys and focus groups. It also plays a role in the Commission's efforts to help ensure that investor disclosures are written in plain English.