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Financial News from Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA)

  • High-Yield CD Offers Can Be Bait for High-Commission Investments

    If you inquire about the certificate of deposit (CD), you may find yourself listening to a sales pitch and ultimately owning a very costly, potentially risky investment—something much different than a CD. FINRA is issuing this alert based on calls to its Securities Helpline for Seniors (1-844-57-HELPS (1-844-574-3577)) …

  • Cost Basis and Your Taxes—Brokerage Firms Assist, But Filing and Record Keeping Is In Your Court

    To figure out whether you need to report a gain—or can claim a loss—after you sell, you need to know the cost basis for that investment. For stocks or bonds, the cost basis is generally the price you paid to purchase the securities, including purchases made by reinvestment of dividends or capital gains distributions, plus …

  • Stock Market Got You Down? Tips for a Turbulent Market FINRA - Tue, Jan 26, 2016 9:59 AM EST
    Stock Market Got You Down? Tips for a Turbulent Market

    The stock market is off to a rocky start this year. 1. Revisit your financial goals. Setting clear, prioritized goals—each with steps to achieve the goal, a price tag and a time frame—will help guide your investment approach.

  • Disaster Planning—5 Things to Put in Your Financial Emergency Kit

    You rarely have much advance warning to prepare for most natural catastrophes, which is why it's important to assemble a financial emergency kit now, ahead of a crisis. Before we go into the contents of your financial emergency kit, here are a few pointers. You can get started on the planning process by going to the Department …

  • Lessons for All Investors from FINRA's Senior Hotline FINRA - Tue, Jan 12, 2016 12:50 PM EST
    Lessons for All Investors from FINRA's Senior Hotline

    The FINRA Securities Helpline for Seniors TM (1-844-57-HELPS (1-844-574-3577)) has fielded more than 2,500 calls and helped investors recover nearly $750,000 in voluntary reimbursements from firms since its launch in April 2015. FINRA fielded calls—and subsequently issued investor alerts—related to fraud centering on taxes, …

  • You’ve Decided to Hire a Financial Professional. Now What?

    According to a study by the Society of Actuaries, less than half of pre-retirees, and 55 percent of retirees, reported paying an investment professional to help them plan their financial future. Once you've identified some potential candidates (start by asking friends, family and colleagues who already invest for the names …

  • Are Your Investments Ready for the New Year? FINRA Offers 6 Tips for 2016

    The dawn of a new year is an ideal time to assess your progress toward your investment goals, and make any needed adjustments. Setting clear, prioritized goals—each with steps to achieve the goal, a price tag and a time frame—will help guide your investment approach. Yes, the Fed raised the federal funds rate and might …

  • An increasing number of securities firms are marketing and offering securities-backed lines of credit, or SBLOCs, to investors. SBLOCs can be a key revenue source for securities firms, especially in times of solid market returns and growing investment portfolios, when investors may feel more comfortable leveraging their …

  • 3 Things to Keep in Mind if the Fed Raises Rates FINRA - Tue, Dec 15, 2015 1:00 PM EST
    3 Things to Keep in Mind if the Fed Raises Rates

    As media stories report on a potential hike in the federal funds rate by the Federal Reserve, here are three things to keep in mind. First, while it is generally true that bond prices fall when interest rates rise, a rate change will likely mean different things to different investors. A rate hike generally depresses …

  • What You Should Know About Bitcoin FINRA - Wed, Dec 9, 2015 1:10 PM EST
    What You Should Know About Bitcoin

    Bitcoin and other digital currencies continue to garner attention in media reports and elsewhere. Earlier this month, on December 1, 2015, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) charged two Bitcoin mining companies—GAW Miners and ZenMiner—and their founder with conducting a Ponzi scheme by purporting to offer shares …

  • Don't Go Holiday Shopping With Your 401(k) FINRA - Wed, Dec 2, 2015 1:15 PM EST
    Don't Go Holiday Shopping With Your 401(k)

    If you find yourself thinking about tapping your 401(k) for extra funds, you may want to think again. A 401(k) is where many Americans build their retirement nest egg, and that of course is the primary function of a 401(k) account. While taking a loan may help solve an immediate financial need, there can be consequences …

  • Wake Up and Smell the Pump and Dump FINRA - Tue, Nov 24, 2015 10:30 AM EST
    Wake Up and Smell the Pump and Dump

    The SEC alleges that Jammin' Java's former CEO Shane Whittle orchestrated the scheme with three others who live abroad and operate entities offshore. Using a reverse merger to secretly gain control of millions of Jammin' Java shares, Whittle spread the stock to the offshore entities controlled by a trio of international …

  • How to Stay Out of the Red on Black Friday FINRA - Tue, Nov 17, 2015 2:45 PM EST
    How to Stay Out of the Red on Black Friday

    When it comes to taking control of holiday spending this year, a recent survey by Deloitte offers insight on where to start if you want to stay in the black on Black Friday, Cyber Monday and beyond. Just ...

  • Military Ties Can Be Used to Commit Financial Fraud FINRA - Wed, Nov 11, 2015 10:35 AM EST
    Military Ties Can Be Used to Commit Financial Fraud

    While there, he formed many enduring bonds and friendships, including with fellow Marine Clayton Cohn. Clayton also reached out to his friends, family members and other fellow veterans as potential investors. Clayton repeatedly told James that his investments were doing great.

  • IRS Scam Uses Tools of the Fraud Trade: Phones and Emotions

    According to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, over 4,500 taxpayers have been victimized since October 2013, handing over some $23 million to the fraudsters. If not, report the incident to the IRS and to Treasury Inspector General along with the phone number that you may have retrieved during the  …

  • Binary Options: These All-Or-Nothing Options Are All-Too-Often Fraudulent

    Trading binary options can be an extremely risky proposition. Unlike other types of options contracts, binary options are all-or-nothing propositions. When a binary option expires, it either makes a pre-specified amount of money, or nothing at all, in which case the investor loses his or her entire investment.

  • Don't Get Fooled by a Lottery Scam FINRA - Mon, Oct 19, 2015 2:40 PM EDT
    Don't Get Fooled by a Lottery Scam

    FINRA is issuing this alert to warn investors about scammers who contact investors with promises of significant cash, prizes and lottery winnings. Through its recently launched FINRA Securities Helpline for Seniors – HELPS™, FINRA has received a number of calls from investors who were contacted by individuals offering …

  • What to Expect When You Open a Brokerage Account FINRA - Thu, Oct 15, 2015 4:30 PM EDT
    What to Expect When You Open a Brokerage Account

    Planning to open a brokerage account? Here’s what to expect if you decide to open a brokerage account. This will include a new account application, which brokerage firms may also call a new account form, account opening form or something similar.

  • 3 Things to Know About Financial Planners FINRA - Tue, Oct 6, 2015 4:20 PM EDT
    3 Things to Know About Financial Planners

    As you seek out a financial professional, you are apt to come across individuals who call themselves financial planners. Here are three things you need to know about financial planners. Financial planners can come from a variety of backgrounds and offer a variety of services.

  • Is It Time to Rebalance Your Portfolio? FINRA - Wed, Sep 30, 2015 10:55 AM EDT
    Is It Time to Rebalance Your Portfolio?

    As you say goodbye to the dog days of summer, and hello to the cool air and changing leaves of autumn, consider checking in with your asset allocation to see whether it is still achieving the balance you intended. If not, it may be time to consider rebalancing your portfolio. What Is Asset Allocation?

  • Smart Beta—What You Need to Know FINRA - Wed, Sep 23, 2015 2:00 PM EDT
    Smart Beta—What You Need to Know

    Many investors are familiar with index funds, which are mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that seek to track the performance of a particular benchmark index. Most other widely known indices, including the S&P 500, NASDAQ 100 and Russell 2000, use a company's market capitalization to determine how much weight …

  • Your One-Minute Guide to Stock Volatility FINRA - Wed, Sep 16, 2015 12:00 PM EDT
    Your One-Minute Guide to Stock Volatility

    If you've seen the jagged lines on charts tracking stock prices lately, you know that prices fluctuate throughout the day and week, sometimes significantly. You'll see short-term fluctuations as the stock's price moves within a certain price range, and longer-term trends over months and years, in which that short-term …

  • Market Risk: What You Don't Know Can Hurt You FINRA - Thu, Sep 10, 2015 2:35 PM EDT
    Market Risk: What You Don't Know Can Hurt You

    The recent decline in the Chinese stock market was quickly felt the world over, sending other markets tumbling and spiking volatility. Most investors know that investing involves risks as well as rewards and that, generally speaking, the higher the risk, the greater the potential reward. What Is Market Risk?

  • Messaging Apps Are Latest Platform for Delivering Pump-And-Dump Scams

    FINRA is issuing this Alert to warn investors to be wary of stock promotions sent through popular messaging apps such as WhatsApp that allow users to almost instantly exchange messages. The messages could be coming from fraudsters looking to trick unsuspecting investors. In recent weeks, scammers have been using messaging …

  • Custodial Accounts Are Another Way to Save for College FINRA - Wed, Aug 26, 2015 9:45 AM EDT
    Custodial Accounts Are Another Way to Save for College

    There are many ways to save for college, from relatively recent products such as 529 plans to putting money away the old-fashioned way with U.S. Savings Bonds. There's another option to consider: custodial accounts, which include Uniform Gift to Minors Act (UGMA) accounts and Uniform Transfer to Minors Act (UTMA) accounts. …

  • 5 Tips to Educate Yourself About Education Savings Accounts

    People who want to save for a child's college education have a wide array of choices. Among these are Coverdell Education Saving Accounts (ESAs).  One advantage ESAs offer is that they usually give you more investment choices than most other college savings vehicles. 1. They give you plenty of investment options.

  • Unregistered Penny Stocks Can Spell Big Problems FINRA - Wed, Aug 12, 2015 1:00 PM EDT
    Unregistered Penny Stocks Can Spell Big Problems

    A recent regulatory action by FINRA reveals that even in the risky world of "penny" stocks, some investments are riskier than others. FINRA fined Aegis Capital Corp. $950,000 for improperly selling unregistered penny stocks. Among other violations, FINRA found that from April 2009 to June 2011, the company liquidated …

  • Duration—What a Fed Rate Hike Could Do to Your Bond Portfolio

    The Federal Reserve has been telegraphing that a rise in interest rates is coming. When it happens, if you own bonds or have money in a bond fund, there is a number you should know. It's called "duration." Although stated in years, duration is not simply a measure of time.

  • Take a Deeper Dive: How Mutual Funds Are Structured FINRA - Wed, Jul 29, 2015 3:15 PM EDT
    Take a Deeper Dive: How Mutual Funds Are Structured

    Sometimes it's valuable to break the surface of a common investment. A mutual fund is an investment company that pools money from many investors and invests it based on specific investment goals. Technically known as an "open-end company," a mutual fund raises money by selling its own shares to investors.

  • Start Planning Today With "my Social Security" FINRA - Mon, Jul 20, 2015 3:50 PM EDT
    Start Planning Today With "my Social Security"

    Luckily, there are tools and resources that can help you plan for—and reach—your retirement goals. One valuable tool is my Social Security, brought to you by the Social Security Administration (SSA). This is National my Social Security Week, which makes it the perfect time to create your account.

  • Bond Liquidity—Factors to Consider and Questions to Ask FINRA - Mon, Jul 13, 2015 12:30 PM EDT
    Bond Liquidity—Factors to Consider and Questions to Ask

    In the case of bonds, investors should understand what professional bond traders already know: the bond market isn't always instantly liquid, and some bonds are easier to trade than others. For example, rising interest rates generally cause bond prices to fall, which in turn can be accompanied by a bond market sell-off …

  • What You Should Know About Reverse Mortgages FINRA - Thu, Jul 9, 2015 2:40 PM EDT
    What You Should Know About Reverse Mortgages

    Advertisements for reverse mortgages can give the false impression that they are an easy, cost-free way for retirees to finance vacations and leisurely lifestyles. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recently conducted a study of older homeowners and found that after seeing ads for reverse mortgages, many of …

  • Is Your Financial Professional Using a False Credential?

    The alert cautions against trusting someone with your investment money just because he or she claims to have impressive credentials or experience. "Fraudsters often try to build credibility and gain trust by claiming to be an expert or have a special designation—a tactic known as source credibility" notes Gerri Walsh, …

  • What Do Con Artists Know? FINRA - Thu, Jun 25, 2015 2:00 PM EDT
    What Do Con Artists Know?

    When it comes to investment and financial fraud, we're all at risk. But that doesn't mean you can't learn to spot and avoid a scam—and even have fun doing it. Americans lose up to $50 billion per year ...

  • Plan for Transition: What You Should Know About the Transfer of Brokerage Account Assets on Death

    Many people prepare for the inevitability of death by creating wills or trusts, spelling out instructions about medical care through advance directives, and naming beneficiaries on retirement accounts such as 401(k)s and IRAs. Sometimes overlooked in estate management is the transfer of securities that are in a non-retirement …

  • Take Action to Recover From Financial Fraud FINRA - Tue, Jun 9, 2015 4:00 PM EDT
    Take Action to Recover From Financial Fraud

    Financial fraud is real and can be devastating. Reporting any financial fraud, no matter how small, helps law enforcement, regulators and government agencies pursue the criminals committing the fraud. Step 1: Create an investment fraud file.

  • The One-Minute Guide to Zero Coupon Bonds FINRA - Mon, Jun 1, 2015 4:15 PM EDT
    The One-Minute Guide to Zero Coupon Bonds

    For example, you might pay $3,500 to purchase a 20-year zero-coupon bond with a face value of $10,000. For this reason, zero-coupon bonds are often purchased to meet a future expense such as college costs or an anticipated expenditure in retirement.

  • A Financial Road Trip Starts With an Emergency Fund FINRA - Thu, May 28, 2015 2:15 PM EDT
    A Financial Road Trip Starts With an Emergency Fund

    When it comes to your financial road trip, which could stretch for many decades, the best place to begin your preparation is with an emergency fund. An emergency fund lets you be prepared to deal with what life brings, and do so on your own terms.

  • Take the Maximum Match—Many Do Not FINRA - Tue, May 19, 2015 2:00 PM EDT
    Take the Maximum Match—Many Do Not

    Simply put, they are passing up free money. A 401(k) or similar employer-sponsored retirement plan can be a powerful resource for building a secure retirement—and an employer match can add a substantial amount to an employee's nest egg. Now let's assume you get a match from your employer.

  • What You Should Know About Automated Investment Tools FINRA - Fri, May 8, 2015 1:00 PM EDT

    At the swipe of a fingertip on a mobile device or the click of a mouse on a desktop computer, investors can access a broad range of automated investment tools. These tools range from personal financial planning tools (such as online calculators) to portfolio selection or asset optimization services (such as services that …

  • 4 Ways ETFs Are NOT All Alike FINRA - Tue, May 5, 2015 11:15 AM EDT
    4 Ways ETFs Are NOT All Alike

    All exchange-traded funds (ETFs) are not created equal. Before you invest in an ETF, it’s a good idea to know how ETFs can differ from each other. Most ETFs are registered with the SEC as investment companies under the Investment Company Act of 1940, and the shares they offer to the public are registered under the Securities …

  • New Money Coming Into Indian Country: Plan for the Long Term

    A range of programs and lawsuit settlements have resulted in new money coming into Indian Country. Over the past five years, Indian Country lawsuit settlements totaling more than $3 billion have been reached. The Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations was established by the Department of the Interior to implement the …

  • New Securities Helpline for Seniors FINRA - Tue, Apr 21, 2015 12:20 PM EDT
    New Securities Helpline for Seniors

    The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has launched the toll-free FINRA Securities Helpline for Seniors TM to provide older investors with a place to get assistance from knowledgeable FINRA staff related to concerns they have with their brokerage accounts and investments. FINRA is the largest independent regulator …

  • The Time to Plan for Retirement is Now FINRA - Mon, Apr 13, 2015 1:20 PM EDT
    The Time to Plan for Retirement is Now

    It's National Retirement Planning Week (April 13-17)—a perfect opportunity to focus on arguably the most important piece of the financial-planning pie. Bluntly stated, there is an urgent need for retirement planning. Add to these challenges another reality: more Americans are shouldering the burden of saving for retirement …

  • The One-Minute Guide to Money Market Accounts FINRA - Wed, Apr 8, 2015 2:00 PM EDT
    The One-Minute Guide to Money Market Accounts

    Perhaps you have funds in a money market account at your bank or credit union. • My money market account is federally insured, like a savings account. • My money market account may pay higher interest rates than a traditional savings account. • Different interest rates may apply to different account balances.

  • You Better Shop Around (for Financial Products) FINRA - Tue, Mar 31, 2015 10:30 AM EDT
    You Better Shop Around (for Financial Products)

    According to the FINRA Investor Education Foundation's National Financial Capability Study, nearly two-thirds of all credit card holders reported that they did not compare offers to find the best rates or conditions. Whether your goal is to purchase products for saving and investing or to tap a new line of credit (by acquiring …

  • 5 Things You Should Know About Tax Refund Loans FINRA - Tue, Mar 24, 2015 10:20 AM EDT
    5 Things You Should Know About Tax Refund Loans

    As tax season speeds into high gear, put the brakes on "fast refunds" that come in the form of refund anticipation loans, or RALs. This service is generally free at most banks and credit unions.

  • 5 Golden Rules for Avoiding Problems with Physical Precious Metals

    The Federal Trade Commission sent checks totaling more than $2.4 million to over 100 investors who had fallen victim to the Premier Precious Metals scheme. The fraud conned consumers into buying precious metals on credit without clearly disclosing significant costs and risks, including the likelihood that buyers would …

  • The Emotional Cost of Financial Fraud FINRA - Tue, Mar 10, 2015 2:50 PM EDT
    The Emotional Cost of Financial Fraud

    The Non-Traditional Costs of Financial Fraud report finds that in addition to monetary loss, there is a broader psychological and emotional impact of financial fraud. The results are sobering and underscore the importance of educating the public about how to spot and avoid financial fraud," says FINRA Foundation President …

  • 5 Tips for Managing Your 401(k) FINRA - Tue, Mar 3, 2015 2:45 PM EST
    5 Tips for Managing Your 401(k)

    You're putting money aside all year long, and you're getting valuable tax benefits like investment earnings that grow tax-deferred. 1. Know your plan's rules and procedures, and how much your plan and its investments are costing you. You might want to review the document with your financial adviser or ask your plan administrator …

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