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Who do I call if I have a complaint about my stockbroker?

First of all, you'll have to act promptly. By law, you have only a limited amount of time to take legal action. You'll need to contact your broker first and give him or her the chance to correct the problem. If the broker can't or won't help you, you'll need to take further steps.

You should review the documents you signed when you opened your account. They should describe your appeal process. You should contact the broker's branch manager or regional office manager. Often they will have the authority to intervene and resolve the matter. If not, write to the compliance department of the firm's main office. Explain the problem clearly and tell them how you want it resolved. Ask for a written response within 30 days. Keep thorough notes on each of your conversations, including dates and who you contacted. It is also a good idea to follow up a phone call with a letter.

If you still get no satisfaction, you may want to contact any of the regional or district offices of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to get information about how to file a complaint with any of the offices that oversee the securities industry. The SEC has offices in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Miami, Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Fort Worth, Salt Lake City, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. You can also file complaints on-line at the SEC's website (www.sec.gov) or by writing to the SEC Complaint Center, Securities and Exchange Commission, 100 F Street NE, Washington, DC 20549.

Finally, if all other efforts have failed, contact your attorney. Your problem may involve criminal behavior or require a securities specialist.