Skip to main content
Find a Lawyer

Securities and Exchange Commission Division of Enforcement Complaint Center

What does the Division of Enforcement do?

The Division of Enforcement, a division of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, is charged with enforcing the federal securities laws. The Division.s responsibilities include investigating possible violations of federal securities laws and recommending appropriate remedies for consideration by the Commission. The Division also works closely with criminal authorities in matters of mutual interest.

Investigations frequently concern the sale without registration of securities subject to the registration requirements of the Securities Act of 1933, or the misrepresentation or omission of material facts concerning securities offered for sale, whether or not registration is required. For example, it is unlawful in certain situations for someone to sell securities to you while withholding important information that could affect your investment decision, such as selling you stock in a company but not disclosing to you that the business has no existing operations or selling a stock to you for ten dollars per share when the seller knows the stock is worthless.

Other types of inquiries relate to manipulating market prices of securities; misappropriating or illegally pledging customers. funds or securities; conducting a securities business while insolvent; broker-dealers buying or selling securities from or to customers at prices not reasonably related to current market prices; and broker-dealers violating their responsibilities to treat customers fairly. A common type of investigation involves the inquiry into market fluctuations in particular stocks which do not appear to result from general market trends or from known developments affecting the issuing company.

Why Should I Submit a Complaint to the Division of Enforcement?

Possible violations of the federal securities laws come to light through the Division.s own inquiries, through referrals from other divisions of the SEC, from outside sources such as the self- regulatory organizations, or by other means, including review of complaints and inquiries from people like you. In fact, inquiries and complaints from the general public are the primary sources of leads for detecting law violations in securities transactions.

If you believe that you have been defrauded by a broker-dealer, an investment adviser or any other person or entity (in which a security is involved), we want to know about it, especially if it relates to the Internet. When appropriate, the SEC can seek "disgorgement" as a remedy in certain situations, as, for example, when a scam artist has defrauded investors in a securities-related scheme. An order for disgorgement would mandate that the swindler attempt to return all or part of the money taken from victims.

Also, if you believe that any person or entity may have violated or is currently violating any of the federal securities laws, we want to know about it. Our mission is to enforce the securities laws that seek to protect investors and ensure that the securities markets are fair and honest. By telling us about any violations of the federal securities laws occurring over the Internet or anywhere else, your assistance might prevent a future victim from losing his or her life savings.

What Should I Say in My Complaint?

Though you are not required to furnish any more information than you wish, the more information we obtain the better we can investigate. Critical information are the names, addresses, phone numbers and any other biographical information of any person or entity mentioned in your complaint, and the details of any transaction or activity that you believe violates the federal securities laws.

If your complaint involves the Internet or a commercial access provider, we need to know where the activity is occurring, such as a web site address, FTP site, newsgroup or other area. Your name, an address and telephone number are optional, but we encourage you to identify yourself, especially if you are an investor, because we may have more questions for you or we may ask you to provide information or materials in your possession. For your convenience you can use our Enforcement Complaint Form as a guide for submitting your complaint.

How Do I Submit My Complaint?

Our Mailing Address is:

SEC Division of Enforcement
Enforcement Complaint Center
Mail Stop 7-10
450 Fifth Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20549
Our Fax Number is:(202) 942-9570

Our Toll Free Number is: 1-800-SEC-0330

For inquiries that do not relate to a potential violation of the Federal securities laws, please contact the Office of Investor Education and Assistance.

What Will Happen After I Submit My Complaint?

If sent via email, you should receive an automated response thanking you for your communication and communicating to you other important information. Otherwise, you will receive a reply from us either by telephone or regular mail. We will try to respond to you as soon as possible, but you may not hear from us immediately.

You may be assured that the matter you raise will be given careful consideration in view of the Commission's overall enforcement responsibilities under the federal securities laws. It is, however, the Commission's policy to conduct its inquiries on a confidential basis. The Commission conducts its investigations in this manner to preserve the integrity of its investigative process as well as to protect persons against whom unfounded charges may be made or where the Commission determines that enforcement action is not necessary or appropriate. Subject to the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act, the exis tence or non-existence of an investigation as well as information which may be gathered thereunder is not disclosed unless made a matter of public record in proceedings brought before the Commission or in the courts.

A warning about the security of your email to us:

Although electronic mail over the Internet is used by millions to communicate each day, electronic mail on the Internet is not always secure. Thus, you may wish to communicate only basic information to us via email, and send any specific confidential or sensitive information by regular mail or with a telephone call.

Last update: 01/29/1999

Was this helpful?

Response sent, thank you

Copied to clipboard