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Investing Basics: Your First Line of Defense

Know Your Surroundings, Get Educated

The best way to invest wisely and avoid falling prey to investment fraud is to get informed. Understanding the risks, researching your financial professional and not being rushed into an investment decision are essential basics to put in your investing rucksack.

  • Understanding the risks: There is no such thing as a guaranteed investment and if someone is telling you they have one available, it is most likely too good to be true. Know the risks associated with investing your money and don’t be afraid to ask questions of your investment professional.
  • Research your investment professional: Investment advisers and broker-dealers are required to register in order to sell securities. A free and easy way to find out if your investment professional is registered is to use the SEC’s database on If your investment professional is not registered, they cannot sell securities and this should be a red flag. Even better, this database is mobile friendly. Meeting your adviser for the first time? Search his or her name on your mobile device while you wait for your appointment.
  • Don’t be rushed: A fleeting opportunity may be just that. And it might be a scam. Don’t feel pressured by investment offers touting tight timelines or to “Buy right now!” This can be a sign of an investment fraud.
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Look Ahead to Retirement

Did you know that you have an investing tool already at your fingertips? The Thrift Savings Plan is a retirement savings plan for federal employees and the military. The TSP is a defined contribution plan, similar to the 401(k) plans that many private companies offer their employees. As with any defined contribution plan, the income you receive from your TSP account will depend on how much you put into the account and the earnings on your investments. If you are in the Blended Retirement System, you can also benefit from matching contributions, up to 5%. You get a tax break when you contribute to the TSP, either now or in the future, depending on whether you contribute to a “traditional” TSP account, or to Roth.

Your TSP funds are fully portable, and can follow you into the private sector if you decide to leave the military. Visit the TSP website for more information.

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