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Despite the forex market being the largest financial market in the world, it remains largely unregulated.

There is no international organization or global agency that monitors and oversees the currency trading occurring all over the world in the interbank.

Due to the unregulated nature of the spot FX market, this opens up the opportunity for forex scams and frauds.

While there is no international organization to protect forex traders like there is S.H.I.E.L.D. to protect the world, there are countries that monitor and oversee forex trading activity, including forex brokers, that occur within their borders.

If you are trading forex in the United States, there are two major regulatory agencies that you should be aware of.

Forex U.S. Regulatory Agencies

Commodities Futures Trade Commission (CFTC)

In the United States, we like to call the CFTC… Big Brother.

CFTCThis agency was developed in 1974 to protect individuals in futures and commodities trading.

Since futures include the currency market, the CFTC “naturally” protects forex traders as well.

From 1974 to the present, the CFTC has undergone many changes in hopes of improving trading conditions and creating a level playing field for everyone. The CFTC is also responsible for publishing the Commitments of Traders Report (COT) every Tuesday.

Five commissioners appointed by the President, the offices of the Chairman, and the agency’s operating units make up the Commission. The Commission has 3 offices along with HQ located in Washington, D.C. – Chicago, Kansas City, New York.

Futures exchanges are also located in these cities. So if you have a problem with them, you can make your way over there and bust out your uzis and spray them. Just kidding. Don’t do that – they’re the good guys. They’re here to help you.

Imagine if there was no organization out there to protect you. There would be a lot more scammers, and brokers would cheat their clients in a heartbeat. The CFTC provides order in a market that would otherwise be chaotic.

The mission of the CFTC is to protect market users and the public from fraud, manipulation, and abusive practices related to the sale of commodity and financial futures and options. In the “unregulated” forex market, this regulatory agency will help you determine if a forex company is reliable or trustworthy.

The CFTC’s Website can be found here:

http://www.cftc.gov/index.htm

If you need to file a complaint or report suspicious activities:

http://www.cftc.gov/consumerprotection/redressreparations/index.htm

National Futures Association (NFA)

The NFA is an industry-wide self-propelling organization created in 1982 that regulates the futures market in the United States.

By self-propelling, we mean that the NFA collects dues in order to sustain itself without having to rely on taxpayers’ dollars.

If the CFTC is Big Brother, then we like to call the NFA….Little Big Brother. NFA’s activities are overseen by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), the government agency responsible for regulating the U.S. futures industry.

The NFA’s mission is to:

  • Ensure futures industry integrity
  • Protect market participants
  • Enforce NFA members to meet their regulatory responsibilities

Virtually every firm or individual who conducts futures or options on futures business with the public must be registered with the CFTC and a Member of NFA. NFA performs the registration process on behalf of the CFTC.

NFA Member categories include Commodity Trading Advisors (CTA), Commodity Pool Operators (CPO), Futures Commission Merchants (FCM) and Introducing Brokers (IB).

In order to conduct any business in the futures market, you would have to be a member of the NFA. To be a member of the NFA, an organization would have to pass a screening done by the NFA and comply with NFA standards and regulations.

These rules and regulations provide market integrity and a level playing field for all, and not just for investors.

Over time, they have been making significant progress. In order to resolve futures-related issues, the NFA began an arbitration method in 1983. In 1991, a mediation program was developed as a faster way to resolve disputes.

In late 2001, the NFA started to accept claims online. Members could also start registering online in 2002.

In 2004, the NFA started to submit digital images of fingerprint cards to the FBI enabling quicker background checks and shorter registration times. What an active organization! This goes to show that they keep up with the times. Who knows, they might just make their own iPad app. Ha!

Along with the CFTC, the NFA provides investors and individuals with security and protection from fraud and scams.

The NFA’s website can be found at http://www.nfa.futures.org/index.asp.

How can I learn more about the forex broker with whom I am trading?

In the U.S.,  only regulated entities, such as banks, insurance companies, broker-dealers or futures commission merchants, and affiliates of regulated entities may enter into off-exchange forex trades with retail customers.

You can verify CFTC registration and NFA membership status of a particular firm or individual and check their disciplinary history by calling NFA at 800-621-3570 or by checking the broker/firm information section (BASIC) of NFA’s website.

BASIC is a free tool that you can use to research the background of forex brokers doing business in the United States.

If you live outside the U.S., make sure to ask the forex broker how it is regulated and check with its regulator about the specific broker’s registration status and background.

What should I do if I have a problem with my forex account?

Disagreements are bound to occur from time to time in any industry.

Your first step should be to contact the firm you have a disagreement with and try to reach a settlement.

Both the CFTC and NFA offer programs that may be available for resolving monetary disputes involving your forex account.

Whether NFA or the CFTC can accept your case depends on several factors, however, including the party your claim is against.

How to File a Claim if You Believe You’ve Lost Money Due to Unfair or Improper Treatment by an NFA Member

NFA offers an arbitration program to help customers and NFA Members resolve disputes. Information about NFA’s arbitration program is available by calling NFA at 800-621-3570 or visiting the Dispute Resolution section of its Web site at www.nfa.futures.org.

How to File a Claim if You Have a Dispute That Can’t Be Resolved with a CFTC Registered Firm

The CFTC offers a reparation program for resolving disputes. If you want information about filing a CFTC reparations complaint, contact the CFTC’s Office of Proceedings at 202-418-5250 or visit the CFTC’s website.

How to File a Complaint or Report Suspicious Business Practices

In addition, if you suspect any wrongdoing or improper business conduct in your forex account, you may contact or file a complaint with NFA by telephone at 800-621-3570 or online at www.nfa.futures.org/basicnet/Complaint.aspx.

You may also file a complaint with the CFTC. The CFTC has prepared a questionnaire form to assist the public in reporting suspicious activities or transactions.

The questionnaire form is available on the CFTC’s Web site at http://www.cftc.gov/enf/enfform.htm