I searched the firm or financial professional and there were no results in one or more of the registries. What do I do now?
First, check to ensure that you properly spelled the name of the person you were searching and ensure that any registration numbers for the firm or individual are entered correctly. If the information was entered correctly, it is possible that the individual or firm is not registered or licensed.
Most individuals or firms that sell financial products must be registered or licensed, but this is not always the case. Some financial professionals may not be listed in the databases, but that does not mean there is a problem. However, if you think there is a problem with the firm or investment professional you searched for, please provide the CFTC with a tip.
Beware of any high pressure sales tactics. Learn more about the Red Flags of Fraud from the FINRA Investor Education Foundation. If any tactics are being used:
The individual or firm I searched for is registered or licensed, but they have a different address and/or phone number than the person with whom I spoke. What should I do?
Some scammers use the names of legitimate individuals and firms to conduct their frauds. If you find that the contact information in the results differs from the contact information your financial professional provided, give the CFTC a tip.
Where does the information within CFTC SmartCheck come from?
CFTC SmartCheck links to four databases compiled by multiple regulators. These regulators include two federal agencies and two self-regulatory bodies that are empowered by law to regulate their membership. Each entity keeps records of registration and disciplinary action related to registered financial professionals, and those databases are available through the search functions in the Check portion of this website.
Are my tips really anonymous?
It depends. According to the CFTC’s Department of Enforcement’s website:
We welcome information from the public about possible violations of the CEA or Commission regulations. We recognize that often an informant desires to remain anonymous, or at least to receive assurances that his or her identity will be kept confidential. We do everything we can to accommodate such concerns. If you choose to give us your name, we will do everything we can to maintain your confidentiality during the investigation. However, there are circumstances under which we might be unable to do so.
If you wish to remain anonymous, you need not identify yourself to us. Indeed, we often receive letters from anonymous informants. Often a letter will not give us sufficient information to let us investigate effectively, so we encourage you to telephone us. We are helped in our investigations by the ability to ask questions of an informant. You should note, however, that we sometimes are able to identify caller telephone numbers through Caller ID.
I think something is fishy, but what if I am wrong?
All tips to the CFTC must be truthful. If you are wrong, but don’t know it, you are likely not violating the law. A person who is found to have knowingly submitted false, fictitious, and/or fraudulent statements to the CFTC, or omitted material information from the CFTC, may be in violation of the CEA or the criminal statute, 18 U.S.C. 1001.
How does the CFTC work with other agencies to combat fraud?
The CFTC partners with other federal agencies in fraud prevention efforts, for example the CFTC directs consumers to SEC databases through CFTC SmartCheck. By working together, we can ensure that investors and traders are educated about fraud and able to spot and prevent fraud. The CFTC Division of Enforcement will refer consumers who report fraud outside of their jurisdiction to the appropriate agency when necessary.