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Questions to Ask Before You File a Complaint

Have you contacted the firm?

  1. Immediately question your broker about any transaction that you do not understand or did not authorize with your broker.
  2. If you are 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. Retain copies of your letter and of all other related correspondence with the brokerage firm.
  3. If you are still not satisfied with the firm's response, you can send a complaint to FINRA.
  4. A written complaint to the firm, or submitted directly to FINRA, will not appear in BrokerCheck unless it meets certain criteria

Have you been defrauded by the firm or your broker?

If you believe that you have 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.

When should you complain?

FINRA has jurisdiction over most brokerage firms and their employees and associate 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.

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 most 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 our Prohibited Conduct Web page.

Are you seeking the return of money or securities?

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.