Online: If you prefer, using the form in the Contact Us section, give us a few details and someone from our office will be in touch with you, generally within 24 hours.
How do I know if I have been a victim of Stockbroker Fraud?
Stockbroker fraud is a term that can be used to broadly define the abuse of a customer’s portfolio by a stockbroker, broker-dealer or investment adviser. Churning the account is probably the most widely well known abuse. The sale of unsuitable investments is the violation we see the most. Unsuitability can result from investments that are too risky or an over concentration of otherwise suitable investments.
For example, the type of trading and risk which is suitable for an executive in his 40’s, versed in finance and making a large salary is entirely different that what is suitable for the typical retiree who is living on fixed income and has a limited understanding of the field of investments. The former has the ability to replace lost capital while the retiree does not. Generally speaking retirees should be conservative and concerned with preserving capital.
As a guideline, if you are retired and have unexplained losses, large losses in a single security or other questions about account performance, you should have someone review your account.
What about meeting with the broker and/or manager of the office to resolve my problem?
Many clients have told us over the years about meetings they have had with branch managers and others, seeking to resolve their issues before seeking legal help. While we think it is best in all commercial disputes for the parties to attempt to resolve their differences reasonably and early on , you should be aware that the brokerage firm has the upper hand if you choose to represent yourself.
How much are attorney fees?
Attorneys Fees: While there are exceptions based upon the facts and circumstances in each case, we handle most of our cases on a contingent fee basis, meaning that our fee is paid only as a percentage of the recovery. If there is no recovery, you pay nothing.
Does it matter when I file my claim?
Yes, not only do you run the risk of missing a statute of limitation, but the sooner you file your claim the better your chance for success. Witnesses and recollections are better when the case is filed earlier rather than later. If a case is not timely filed, the broker and firm may gain legal defenses that may act as a bar to the claim. Some limitations are as short as one year.
What is arbitration?
You may not be aware, but when you opened your brokerage account, in all likelihood you waived your right to pursue the firm in court should a dispute arise. This is because virtually every brokerage firm includes language on the back of the form you signed when you opened the account requiring you to submit any claim to FINRA arbitration.
Generally speaking, arbitration is much faster and less costly than court litigation. Arbitration panels are usually comprised of three panel members, one of whom is designated as the chair. The hearings are less formal that court proceedings but quite technical and lengthy, nonetheless.
Do cases ever settle before arbitration?
It is quite common for the parties to “mediate” the case prior to the arbitration. Mediation is a voluntary process, utilizing the services of an independent third party, knowledgeable in the subject, who attempts to facilitate a settlement between the parties. This most commonly occurs 30-60 days prior to the arbitration hearing.
How long does it take to resolve a claim with my broker or brokerage firm?
While this can vary from case to case, most cases are resolved 12-18 months from the time they are filed.
Is there a procedure to speed up the process in the case of elderly persons?
Yes. FINRA arbitration rules contain provisions to expedite the hearing dates for the elderly.
Was investing in a variable annuity or a non-publicly traded REIT suitable for you?
Over the last several years the popularity of annuities and alternative investments like REITs has grown enormously. The reason for this is the broker receives one of the highest selling commissions of all financial products when selling these products.
Before investing in an annuity or a REIT, a broker should determine whether or not the investment is suitable given the customer’s age, investments needs, station in life and risk tolerance. For instance:
• Did you need access to cash?
• Did you have income needs?
• Were you risk adverse?
• Did your heirs need a death benefit?
• Did you already have adequate life insurance coverage prior to purchasing the annuity?
Where do I file my case if I live outside the United States?
FINRA rules generally require international clients with brokerage accounts with a FINRA-registered firm to submit to jurisdiction in the United States. Cases involving Latin American countries are generally heard in Miami.
What are my chances of “winning” in arbitration?
According to the FINRA website on Arbitration Statistics for 2017, about 73% of the 3,045 cases closed during 2017 were settled by the parties either at mediation or otherwise, prior to submitting the matter to the arbitrators. Of the cases on which arbitration panels rendered awards, 43% of the Claimants received some type of damage award.
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