FINRA issued an Investor Alert on August 6, 2013, warning investors of unsolicited or "cold" telephone calls from persons professing to represent an investment firm. It warns that the person on the other side of the call may be a scamster posing as an employee in order to obtain personal information.
In the past, the SEC and FINRA issued a joint alert on the dangers of e-mail spam, which at the time was used to promote a fraudulent pump-and-dump schemes.
Amongst FINRA's recommendation both then and now is to never provide personal information to an unknown person who calls you—including such cold callers.
Instead, FINRA recommends doing your own research by calling the customer service or compliance office of the firm the caller claims to represent. To do this, visit the firm's legitimate website or locate its phone number in a public directory. Through the service or compliance center, you may verify the caller's identity and legitimacy of the solicitation.
Additionally, if you already hold an account at the firm, you may be able to recognize the phone number, though FINRA suggests calling the customer service or compliance office to verify the legitimacy of the request is still the best course of action.
Lastly, if you are already a firm customer, you may consult your broker.
FINRA has sanctioned registered individuals for improper solicitation—a "cold call" in which the person purporting to be a financial professional requests personal information fits this mold.
If you believe you have been the victim of a cold-call phishing scheme, contact your financial institution immediately and, if you believe your identity has been stolen, contact the Federal Trade Commission.
If misconduct such as improper solicitation has proven harmful to your investments or interests, please call The Law Offices of Jonathan W. Evans & Associates at (800) 699-1881 for an investigation and consultation.
FINRA Investor Alert: Cold Calls from Brokerage Firm Imposters—Beware of Old-Fashioned Phishing