Check to see if an investment professional is licensed in your state. Contact information for state securities regulators in the 50 states and Washington, D.C., is available on the NASAA website.
Your state securities regulator can tell you whether an investment is registered and if a broker or a broker's firm has a disciplinary history.
You also can check the disciplinary history of brokers and investment advisers by using online databases at SEC.gov and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, or FINRA, website.
The Investment Adviser Public Disclosure website, AdviserInfo.sec.gov, has a database that includes the registration statements filed by investment advisers registered with the SEC.
Before buying stock, check out the company's financial statements by using the SEC's EDGAR database, which stands for electronic data gathering and retrieval and can be found on the SEC's website at sec.gov.