The South Carolina Investor Education and Outreach Program
We are a society of investors. Americans now put more money into investments each year than into savings accounts. Unfortunately, millions of dollars are lost by South Carolina investors through securities fraud, sales abuses, or an investor’s failure to fully educate themselves on a particular issue. Frequently, these losses are from savings that have been painstakingly accumulated over many years or retirement funds that can’t be replaced. Victims are of all ages and levels of sophistication. In the majority of these losses, none of the investors’ money is ever recovered. To help prevent these losses, the Securities Division of the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office has established the Investor Education and Information Program.
The Purpose of the Program
The Investor Education and Outreach Program serves to:
- Alert investors to potentially fraudulent securities schemes;
- Provide practical, current information to help investors protect themselves; and
- Inform South Carolinians about basic securities laws and protections.
Because state and federal securities regulators can’t predict all of the securities frauds and abuses that may occur in South Carolina, the Investor Education and Outreach Program is designed to help investors protect themselves.
Information to Help You
The program’s publications cover several investment-related topics, including the avoidance of scams, microcap stock (penny stock) fraud, and how senior citizens can avoid being conned. The Securities Division also provides free information about the companies and people who sell these investments. You can learn about specific steps to take and agencies to call when you have questions. You can also find out whether your salesperson is licensed to sell securities and whether there have been complaints against the salesperson or the broker/dealer.
You also will be reminded of some basic investing rules, such as:
- No matter how you choose to invest your money, there will always be a degree of risk involved. (Risk means you may lose all or part of your investment.)
- The higher the potential return, the more risky the investment.
Speakers for Groups and Organizations
In addition to publications, speakers are available for community groups and organizations at no charge. Groups interested in scheduling an Investor Education and Information Program representative should contact our office.
How is the program funded?
The Investor Education and Outreach Program is a public service for South Carolina investors. Program expenses are paid from registration fees collected from broker/dealers, investment advisors, and mutual funds, and from settlements of lawsuits involving brokerage firms and other companies.
North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) – The oldest international organization devoted to investor protection, NASAA is a voluntary association of 65 state, provincial, and territorial securities administrators in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Canada, and Mexico. Any individual or organization who wishes to protect themselves from securities fraud will find the information on this site useful.
Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) – This federal agency, created by the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, is charged with upholding and enforcing the Securities Act of 1933. The statutes which the SEC enforces are designed to promote full disclosure to the investor and create an atmosphere of fair trade.
Federal Trade Commission (FTC) – The FTC enforces a variety of federal antitrust and consumer protection regulations. The Commission seeks to ensure that the nation’s markets function competitively, and are vigorous, efficient, and free of undue restrictions. The Commission also works to enhance the smooth operation of the marketplace by eliminating acts or practices that are unfair or deceptive. In general, its efforts are directed toward stopping actions that threaten consumers’ opportunities to exercise informed choice.
Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA)– This non-profit organization was established by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Investment Banker’s Conference. Nearly every broker-dealer firm and investment bank dealing in the over-the-counter (OTC) market is registered with the FINRA.