Investor Alerts

Cold Calls from Brokerage Firm Imposters—Beware of Old-Fashioned Phishing

Recently, FINRA has received reports that scamsters are posing as employees of at least one well-known brokerage firm to obtain personal information. In a new twist to Internet "phishing schemes," which use spam email to lure you into revealing everything from Social Security numbers to financial account information, it appears that some fraudsters may be resorting to a time-tested method—the telephone call.

Scam Details

In this scam, fraudsters cold-call potential victims, posing as associates of a well-known brokerage firm. Some of the people who have received such calls are actual customers of the legitimate brokerage firm. The fraudsters claim to offer information about certificates of deposit (CDs), citing yields well above the best rates in the market. The imposters say their supervisor will follow up with more details about the CDs, and sometimes send potential victims applications and forms to transfer funds in an effort to collect additional information. Armed with this information, the fraudsters may attempt to steal the person's identity or money from an account.

If You Receive an Unsolicited Telephone Call

Never provide personal information or authorize any transfer of funds to any unknown person who calls you. If you aren't sure if the caller is legitimate, take these steps to avoid losing money:

  • Call the customer service center or compliance office of the firm the caller claims to work for—using the number on the firm's website or in a publicly available telephone directory. Verify the caller's identity and the legitimacy of the recommended investment.
  • If you have an account at the firm, check caller ID (if you have it) for the firm's name and telephone number. Be wary of an "unavailable' or unfamiliar telephone number. However, sophisticated fraudsters can deliberately falsify a phone number for caller ID purposes (known as caller ID spoofing), making it all the more important to call the firm directly.

If You Think You've Been Scammed

If you believe you're a victim of this scam, act quickly. Contact your financial institution immediately to report a loss or theft of funds through an electronic funds transfer. If you believe your identity has been stolen, follow the Federal Trade Commission's Identity Theft action plan to protect yourself. FINRA also encourages you to file a complaint using our online Complaint Center or send a tip to FINRA's Office of the Whistleblower.

Additional Resources

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Last Updated: 
August 6, 2013