Following Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc.’s failure to detect that one of their registered representatives had converted more than $370,000 from customer accounts, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) issued a notice for investors alerting them to the importance of consistently checking their brokerage account statements. No matter how much you trust your broker and their firm, and no matter how well the market is performing, keeping an eye on your statements is an important step to keeping yourself safe from fraud.
Verify All Account Activity
Contact your brokerage firm immediately if you notice any unauthorized cash transfers or trades. In order to convert the $370,000 over a two year period, the Ameriprise employee used a two-step process where he first submitted request forms to transfer the customer’s money into the business bank account of the office where he worked. While he claimed that the transfer was for investment purposes, he used the funds to pay himself unearned commissions, additional salary, and other money he was not entitled to.
Keep Track of Your Basic Account Information
Make sure you verify all personal information present on the account statement, including your address and phone number. It’s especially important to promptly update the relevant information following a move, because keeping your outdated information on the statement could delay or prevent account information from being delivered to you. Along with verifying your information, double check to make sure that your account number matches any previous statements, and confirm the basic information for your financial professional – it can’t hurt to give them a call every so often to make sure the phone number is correct.
Some warning signs to look out for include a contact number that is not answered, consistently busy, or entirely out of service and a name listed on your account that you have never seen before. While some firms don’t provide a specific financial professional’s name on your statement, they are required to list a phone number you can use to get information on your account.
Compare Trade Confirmations with Trades Reported On Your Statement
Your trade confirmations contain important details you need to know, including the number of shares you fold or bought, whether or not you paid a transaction fee or commission, the price at which you sold or bought a security, and the time and date of your transaction. It’s best to check these details as soon as possible after the transaction is complete to make sure there were no mistakes or typos – one wrong press of a button can change 100 shares to 1,000 shares. As you go through and compare the listed information, keep a close eye out to make sure that the prices and sizes of your sales and purchases are correct.
Review Any Fees or Charges
Any fees tied to your account should be listed on your statement, and if you notice any charges that you aren’t entirely sure of reach out to your firm or broker so they can clarify. It’s your money, and you have a right to know why you’re being charged, and in some cases the charges could be a sign of broker misconduct.
At Meyer Wilson, our investment fraud attorneys have spent their careers protecting victims of investment fraud across the United States. Since we first opened our doors in 1999, our lawyers have represented almost 1,000 institutions and individuals, recovering more than $500 million dollars in settlements and verdicts for our clients along the way. If you or someone you love were the victim of investment fraud, contact us today by filling out our online form to begin your free case evaluation. We handle every case on a contingency fee basis, so you won’t be charged any legal fees until we help you recover your losses.