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U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission

Questions for Investors to Ask
About the Year 2000

February 1999

The "Year 2000 problem" arises because most computer systems and programs were designed to handle only a two-digit year, not a four-digit year. When the year 2000 begins, these computers may interpret "00" as the year 1900 (e.g., 1997 is seen as "97") and either stop processing date-related computations or will process them incorrectly. To prevent this, companies need to examine their computers and programs, fix the problem, test their systems, test interactions with other organizations, and certify their computer systems as year 2000 compliant -- all before the stroke of midnight on December 31, 1999.

While the government is monitoring this problem, there are no guarantees. The best advice we can give anyone concerned about the year 2000 problem is to ask questions.

As a Customer of a Brokerage or a Shareholder of an Investment Company, Ask Your Broker or Money Manager

What is your firm doing to become year 2000 compliant?
How can I be satisfied that your firm will be ready on time?
If your firm is not ready, how could I be affected?
Assuming that your firm will be ready, what is being done to make sure that the exchanges, clearing agencies, and other market participants are also ready?

Are there provisions to test operations with the exchanges, clearing agencies, and other market participants before 2000? Will your firm be participating in any industry-wide tests?

What will happen if I want to sell some stock in December 1999 or early January 2000 and your firm or some other market participant is having computer problems and my sale is delayed or possibly can't be executed at all on the day I placed the order? What will your firm do for me in that situation?

Is your firm's research department evaluating companies' compliance with year 2000 and the effect their compliance might have on their bottom line before you make buy and sell recommendations?

How can I be assured that my interest and dividend payments will not be affected on January 2000?

As an Investor or Shareholder in a Public Company, Ask the Company or Your Broker or Financial Adviser Recommending the Investment ...

What is the company doing to prepare its computers for the year 2000?


What will be the effect of the year 2000 problem on the company?


Is the year 2000 only an internal operational problem for the company, or will it have an effect on the company's products and/or services?

What is the company's schedule for fixing and testing your systems? Can you send me a copy of the company's schedule?

How do the company's costs in addressing the year 2000 problem affect its bottom line? Do these costs have a material financial effect? Can I see something in the company's recent reports or other public statements in which the company discusses its approach to the year 2000 problem?

Even if you don't believe the costs or potential effects of the year 2000 are material, can you tell me how much the year 2000 problem will cost the company?

Have any of the company's officers or members of the board bought personal liability insurance specifically for year 2000 problems?

As a manufacturer or supplier of [computer equipment, software, medical equipment, computer services, ...], are you concerned about the potential liabilities associated with the company's products or services? What is your best assessment of corporate exposure to legal actions arising from equipment or software failures associated with the company's products or services?

Has the company's independent accountant brought any Year 2000 issues to the attention of the company's audit committee? If so, what issues were raised and how were they resolved?

Has a resignation or change in audit firm occurred recently? An audit firm's inability to perform an audit because of Year 2000 issues could result in an auditor resignation.

Does the company have any foreign operations or material relationships with parties in foreign countries? If so, do these relationship or operations present any Year 2000 risks to the company?

Office of Investor Education and Assistance
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission at
Mail Stop 2-13
450 Fifth Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20549
Phone: (202)-942-7040
Fax: (202)-942-9634
E-mail: help@sec.gov

Call 1-(800)-SEC-0330 and ask for our publications:

For more Year 2000 information, see The SEC and the Year 2000