Filing an Investor Complaint

Most business in the securities industry is conducted fairly, efficiently and in a manner that satisfies everyone involved. But problems can arise. If you believe that a sales person, brokerage firm or other industry professional has treated you unfairly, you can file a complaint with FINRA. 

Before you file a complaint, here are four questions to ask yourself: 

Complaint
The fact that your
investment has
decreased in value
or that you may
have lost money
does not necessarily
mean that your firm
or broker has engaged
in misconduct. Investments
in virtually all
securities involve risks.

  1. Have I contacted the firm?

    Immediately question your broker about any transaction that you do not understand or did not authorize. If you're not satisfied with your broker's response, contact the firm's branch manager or compliance department. If you lost money or there was an unauthorized trade made in your account, you should complain in writing to preserve your rights. Retain copies of your letter or email and of all other related correspondence with the brokerage firm.

    If you're still not satisfied with the firm's response, you can send a complaint to FINRA.
     
  2. Have I been defrauded by the firm or your broker?

    If you believe you've been defrauded by a brokerage firm or one of its brokers, FINRA wants to know about it immediately. Often, violations of our rules and the federal securities laws come to light through the receipt and investigation of investor complaints and regulatory tips.

    To file a regulatory tip, you can use FINRA's online regulatory tip form, or you can mail or fax a tip to FINRA at:

    FINRA – Regulatory Tips
    1735 K Street, NW
    Washington, DC 20006-1500
    Fax: (866) 397-3290
     
  3. When should I file a complaint?

    The fact that your investment has decreased in value or that you may have lost money does not necessarily mean that your firm or broker has engaged in misconduct. Investments in virtually all securities involve risks. Further, there is no guarantee that investments will always be profitable, and there is no fund to compensate investors for losses they may have suffered as a result of a particular investment. For examples of conduct that is prohibited in the securities industry, visit FINRA's Prohibited Conduct Web page.
     
  4. Am I seeking the return of money or securities?

    If you file a complaint, there can be no assurances that any action taken by FINRA will result in a payment or return of funds or securities to you, even where formal disciplinary actions are taken and sanctions imposed. Relying exclusively on the outcome of FINRA's investigation may close other avenues of redress if you wait too long to proceed. You may wish to review information on FINRA's Arbitration & Mediation Programs.

How to File a Complaint

Once you answer these questions, you have two options if you decide to file a complaint with FINRA. You can use our online complaint form or you can print out a complaint form and mail or fax it to us. You also can forward spam or junk email recommending that you invest in a stock or other investment to us. 

FINRA has jurisdiction over most brokerage firms and their employees and associated persons. If you have a problem with an investment adviser, transfer agent, mutual fund company or public company, you may want to file a complaint with the SEC or your state securities regulator. Learn more about the problems that FINRA addresses.

If you're still not sure whether to file a complaint, you can call FINRA's Securities Helpline for Seniors® at 844-57-HELPS, Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET. It's a toll-free number that investors can call to get assistance from FINRA staff or raise concerns about issues with brokerage accounts and investments. 

Subscribe to FINRA's Investor News newsletter for more information about saving and investing.