March 14, 2011
This month, state securities regulators throughout the United States are observing 100 years of protecting investors. As Montana's top securities regulator, Monica Lindeen, Commissioner of Securities and Insurance (CSI), is proud to continue building on the century-old foundation of putting fraudsters behind bars, returning lost money to investors and teaching our neighbors to spot and report the red flags of investment fraud.
"Much of our work takes place without a lot of fanfare," said Commissioner Lindeen. "We focus on protecting mom and pop investors, especially those who lack the expertise, experience, and resources to protect their own interests."
The nation's first state securities law was adopted in 1911 and Montana soon followed suit, establishing its own securities law in 1913. Montana's CSI employs six full time employees who work tirelessly to protect Montanans from investment fraud. The CSI enforces the securities laws in Montana, licenses firms and investment professionals doing business in our state, and examines the stockbrokers and investment advisers you rely on to help meet your financial goals.
Some of CSI's high-profile enforcement actions make national headlines, such as the settlements state securities regulators reached with Wall Street firms to return $61 billion to those who invested in auction rate securities. In the past year, CSI has returned $182 million in restitution to Montana investors and collected over $1 million in fines.
State securities regulators serve a vital role as the best resource for investors to turn to for help when they have concerns about what appears to be an investment "opportunity." The best time to get in touch with CSI is before you invest your hard-earned money. You can check to make sure that your prospective investment is properly registered for sale in Montana and that the firms and promoters have the appropriate licenses and clean disciplinary and criminal histories.
CSI is committed to investor education. Over the past two years, CSI staff held investor education tours for community groups, including schools, professional associations and senior centers throughout Montana entitled "How to Smell a Rat." CSI also implemented an investor education program for high school students on three Indian reservations.
The Office of the Commissioner of Securities and Insurance remains dedicated to standing strong for the investors of Montana as state securities regulators enter our next century of investor protection. If you are concerned you may have been a victim of investment fraud, please call our office at 1-800-332-6148.