By Joshua Bailes Consumer Content Specialist U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission Ed note: As a part of Financial Literacy month, IMLS is sharing financial education tools and best practices with the public library field. Click here for more information about financial literacy in public libraries.   When was the last time you checked the background of the financial professional who manages your investments? If you are like most Americans, the answer is never. Yet, failing to conduct a simple check could expose you and your investments to a level of risk that most investors would find unacceptable. During SmartCheck Week, April 6-12, 2015, you’re encouraged to use the tools at to check the background of your financial professional. Much like you check the batteries in your smoke alarm on a yearly basis, or get a vehicle history before you purchase a used car, you need to ensure your financial professional is properly registered and doesn’t have disciplinary actions pending. Research indicates that most fraudsters are not registered/licensed, or have had past disciplinary actions with regulators. A simple background check would raise enough red flags to prevent many consumers from trusting these fraudsters with their hard-earned financial resources. SmartCheck Week is part of the larger CFTC SmartCheck outreach effort. CFTC SmartCheck is a national campaign of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) created to empower you to identify and protect yourself against financial fraud., the campaign’s website, enables you to practice and strengthen your ability to spot fraudsters and check the background of your financial professional. is:
  • An easy-to-use website, providing access to information to help you make smarter investment decisions. features:
  • Quick access to essential free databases to search a financial professional’s background in one place.
  • Interactive and fun videos to practice your ability to spot a fraudster.
  • Updated news on emerging frauds. helps you:
  • Improve investment decisions with cutting edge educational tools.
  • Increase your sense of security from knowing you can review a financial professional’s background quickly and easily.
  • Save time when searching for investment resources.
  • Protect your money by learning how to avoid fraudsters and their offers.
Access these features of to improve your investing decisions: Remember, check your financial professional’s background once a year, and every time you engage a new one. Put a reminder in your smartphone calendar, check out, and help protect your investments from fraud. Joshua Bailes is a Consumer Content Specialist with the Office of Consumer Outreach at the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission.