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How to Use the SEC as an Investing Resource

Long before you invest your first dollar, get to know the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The SEC exists primarily to protect investors from fraud and other unlawful activity designed to fleece them.

The SEC was created during the early 1930s by the federal government to crack down on abuses that continued to linger from the speculative and questionable trading practices that were in high gear during the 1920s. It continues to this day to be the most important watchdog of the investment industry.

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The SEC has a Web site that offers information and services to help you invest with confidence:

  • Investment news. Discover the latest news and information on many topics such as recent market events.

  • Check out your broker. Research potential brokers and investment advisers. You can also look up the telephone numbers for regional offices, and contact the SEC with your questions about dubious brokers.

  • File a complaint. The SEC maintains a database of complaints lodged against brokers and companies that have committed fraud or other abuses against the investing public. If you’ve already been victimized by unscrupulous operators, call the SEC for assistance.

  • The Edgar system. Access the Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis, and Retrieval (Edgar) database. This system is used to monitor, analyze, and make available to you, time-sensitive corporate information that is filed with the SEC. The Web site also offers an online tutorial to help you learn how to use this system.

  • Free publications. You can download publications that discuss a wide variety of investment-related subjects, including investment clubs, beginners’ guides to investing, and investor privacy rights and protections.

  • “Your Money” podcast. Listen to the “Your Money” podcasts for helpful investing information in audio format.

  • Mutual Fund Cost Calculator. Decide whether or not to invest in a mutual fund by using this online tool to calculate the fees and expenses before you invest.

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