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Gallagher Warns Investors: Verify before You Buy


Tami Torres or Bob Lotane
(850) 413-2842
TALLAHASSEE—Florida's Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher announced today that he is expanding efforts to promote investor education and protect investors from financial scams. His message, communicated through public service announcements and billboard advertising, is Be a Smart Investor:  Verify Before You Buy.  
"Each year, thousands of Floridians fall prey to financial scams that cheat them out of their hard-earned money or retirement savings," said Gallagher, who oversees the Florida Department of Financial Services. "Our goal with this campaign is to protect investors by getting their questions answered before they invest." 
Gallagher said both the PSAs and billboards will help direct Floridians to the department's helpline number – 1-800-342-2762 – where they can verify that a broker, firm or company is licensed to sell investments and how long they've been doing business in Florida.  Potential investors can also find out if there are any complaints filed or actions taken against the broker or company they are considering.
Gallagher also said that potential investors can use a new on-line tool to verify that a broker or company is licensed by logging on to and then clicking on Be a Smart Investor: Verify Before You Buy.  The website also offers tips and resources to help investors of all ages and income levels better protect themselves against investment fraud.
"Education and awareness are often an investor's best defense against fraud," said Gallagher, who launched a statewide public education initiative last fall to help Floridians avoid debt and build assets.  "Before purchasing a stock, bond, insurance product or any financial product, Floridians should verify they are legitimate investments."
Gallagher also recommended that potential investors ask for and read the prospectus on any investment, which should provide information about the company's business plan, and its officers and directors, and investigate the claims made in the prospectus.
As part of the campaign, billboards will be going up in the following markets:  Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Orlando, Ocala, Gainesville, Ft. Myers, Daytona, Melbourne, St. Augustine, Jacksonville, Tampa, Tallahassee, Ft. Walton Beach and Panama City.  The Florida Outdoor Advertising Association (FOAA) and its participating member companies donated the billboards as part of their statewide public service program.
"FOAA is proud to offer assistance with this statewide public service effort," said Charlotte Brand, FOAA President and CEO.
Financial support for the "Be a Smart Investor: Verify Before You Buy" campaign is provided by a grant from the Investor Protection Trust (IPT).  The IPT is a nonprofit organization devoted to investor education. Since 1993, the IPT has worked with the States to provide the independent, objective investor education needed by all Americans to make informed investment decisions. Their website is
NOTE TO MEDIA:  Public service announcements can be viewed via the website at, then click on Be a Smart Investor: Verify Before You Buy.  For a VHS or Beta copy of the PSA, contact the DFS Press Office at 850-413-2842.