Recovery Plan: FTC Creates Website to Assist Identity Theft Victims

By Christopher Pugh, Fall 2015 Intern

Identity theft can be a life altering event for its victims if immediate action is not taken after the theft. This can be a scary and frantic time for the victim who does not have a plan to counteract the consequences of identity theft. Because the victim is the party most likely with the burden of proving their innocence in any fraudulent transactions, taking swift action can not only reduce losses due to theft, but also create a record for the victim that can help prove innocence to would be creditors.

To help Americans in taking action to fight the negative consequences of identity theft, the Federal Trade Commission has created a new website with a detailed plan that victims can follow. The Identitytheft.gov website is an interactive plan that is divided into three easy to follow checklists: (1) What to do Right Away, (2) What to do Next, and (3) Other Steps. Each section of the plan offers drop down menus that detail each step complete with phone numbers to credit reporting agencies, sample letters to creditors, and website links with even more resources.

Additionally, the plan provides extensive information on how to report identity theft to the local and federal authorities. The checklist plan will even generate your Identity Theft Affidavit for submission to the Federal Trade Commission, and it is all easily printable for your records.

For more information on how to recover from identity theft, visit the SEC’s Investor.gov website or the Federal Trade Commission’s Identitytheft.gov website.

More Interesting Insights from the Financial Capability Study

By: Jason Robinson, Fall 2015 Student Intern

The National Financial Capability Study compared the investing habits of men and women. In order to limit variables, the researchers compared unmarried men to unmarried women, and found that 21 percent of women and 24 percent of men own taxable investment accounts. The research also revealed that unmarried women are slightly more likely to consult a financial professional for savings and investment advice.     Continue reading

What a Future Can Bring

By Bryan Rafie, Fall 2015 Student Intern

The future is to some extent unpredictable. Unpredictability brings risk. Businesses do not like risk. In an effort to manage their risk, businesses establish future contracts. Futures contracts are standardized forward contracts. Forward contracts are agreements to buy or sell a good (Commodity or Financial Instrument) at a specific price at some point in the future. Businesses commonly use forward contracts to minimize the risk of the prices on items vital to their business going up or down. Continue reading

5 Things You Did Not Know About FINRA: #5 FINRA Resolves Disputes

By: Alexandra Hughes, Fall 2015 Student Intern

Finally, FINRA resolves disputes between customers and firms and/or individual brokers as well as disputes involving only industry parties through arbitration or mediation. Assuming eligibility, arbitration generally poses a “faster, cheaper, and less complex” approach to solving securities disputes than does litigation. Mediation is an alternative to arbitration, and often runs concurrently with a filed statement of claim in FINRA arbitration. Mediation allows the parties to reach and sign a settlement agreement, rather than presenting evidence to an arbitrator and being bound by an arbitration decision. Although mediation is a voluntary process, it is much faster than arbitration. The Investor Advocacy Clinic represents investors in FINRA arbitration and mediation.

A general outline of the arbitration process is as follows: Continue reading

5 Things You Did Not Know About FINRA: #4 FINRA Educates Investors and Industry Professionals

By: Alexandra Hughes, Fall 2015 Student Intern

Although FINRA often acts retrospectively to protect investors by disciplining firms and individual brokers who violate securities laws or FINRA industry standards, FINRA also protects investors prospectively by providing education and investment resources.

FINRA provides a host of free and accessible investor education resources on its website for investors of all ages and experiences. The resources available to investors include:

  • Preparing to invest resources, which help investors set their financial goals, manage debt, and understand how much money they have to invest
  • Products and Professionals resources, which help investors chose the products and investment professionals right for their financial goals
  • Protect your money resources, which help investors detect and avoid fraud, protect their identity, and keep up to date with investor alerts from FINRA, the SEC, and other regulatory agencies
  • Resolving problems resources, which provide investors with information on how to file a complaint, understand their rights under Securities Investor Protection Corporation, and learn about dispute resolution
  • Tools and calculators resources, which link investors to: research tools like FINRA’s BrokerCheck, analyzers like the Risk and Scam Meters, calculators like the Retirement Calculator, and quizzes like the FINRA Investment Knowledge Quiz
  • I want to… resources, which help investors target their investment objectives like saving for retirement or college, dealing with losing a job, or getting rid of debt.

In addition to its focus on investor education, FINRA has a strong interest in educating its industry professionals to ensure their compliance with FINRA rules and regulations. The resources available to industry professionals include:

  • Oversight resources, which provide information on member and market regulation as well as enforcement and disciplinary actions
  • Rules and guidance resources which keep industry professionals up to date with FINRA rules, the rulemaking process, notices and guidance on the rules, as well as enable industry professionals to express comments or concerns about significant rule proposals
  • Firm and broker registration and qualification resources
  • Regulatory filing and reporting resources
  • Education and training resources, which provide information about conferences and events as well as continuing education opportunities.

5 Things You Did Not Know About FINRA: #3 FINRA Investigates Potential Abuses

By: Alexandra Hughes, Fall 2015 Student Intern

In addition to FINRA’s rulemaking and disciplinary roles, FINRA also investigates potential abuses in the securities markets in an effort to protect investors and to keep the markets working as effectively and efficiently as possible. Technology enables FINRA to process between 30 billion and 50 billion transactions every day. Processing transactions enables FINRA to gather a holistic picture of the market and to detect fraud. As a result of FINRA’s investigative function, over 700 fraud and insider trading cases were referred to the SEC and other agencies for litigation and/or prosecution in 2014.

Recent actions resulting from FINRA referrals to state and federal authorities include: Continue reading

5 Things You Did Not Know About FINRA: #2 FINRA Disciplines Firms and Brokers

By: Alexandra Hughes, Fall 2015 Student Intern

Because FINRA creates rules and regulations for the securities industry, it only makes sense that FINRA can enforce those rules through disciplinary action. FINRA readily holds its registered securities firms and brokers accountable for their violations of industry standards. Continue reading