Check basic facts before you get financial advice, a loan or credit, buy financial products or hand over your money for a purchase or investment.
ASIC and other government databases can tell you if these people or companies are licensed or if property has money owing on it. A licence from ASIC does not mean that ASIC endorses the company, financial product or advice or that you cannot incur a loss from dealing with them.
ASIC does not approve business models. ASIC grants a licence if a business shows it can meet basic standards such as training, compliance, insurance and dispute resolution. The business is responsible for maintaining these standards.
Checking ASIC's databases should be only one of the many checks you should do before you invest your money. It is important to only deal with licensed people and businesses as you are better protected if things go wrong and will have access to free dispute resolution services.
Check an investment company or scheme
Is the investment scheme registered by ASIC and being offered by a company licensed to sell this investment?
Check if the company is licensed
A company that sells you investments must hold a licence from ASIC, which controls what kinds of schemes they can sell you. Before you hand over your money to someone asking you to join an investment scheme, ask them: 'Does your company hold an Australian Financial Services (AFS) licence to sell this investment?' If they say they don't hold a licence then they could be operating illegally.
You can also check ASIC Connect within the 'organisation and business names search' to see if a scheme is registered with ASIC. Registered schemes will have an Australian Registered Scheme Number (ARSN) that can also be searched.
Investment schemes (generally those with more than 20 members) must be registered with ASIC and comply with obligations under the Corporations Act. Unregistered managed investment schemes do not have the same level of obligations and protections.
Check the list of unlicensed companies
If a company is on our list of unlicensed overseas companies then you should not deal with them.
Check the product disclosure statement
Ask the seller for their product disclosure statement (PDS), which should give enough information about the scheme for you to make an informed decision. Registered schemes must have a PDS.
If you're thinking about investing in listed managed investment products (investments in managed schemes that can be traded on a financial market), then the PDS must be lodged with ASIC. To check, you can search ASIC's OFFERlist database.
Find out more about managed funds.
Check if they are a registered public company
All Australian companies who manage registered investment schemes must register as a public company (i.e. have Ltd, not Pty Ltd, after their name). Search ASIC Connect within the 'organisation and business names' search to see if they have Ltd (and not Pty Ltd) after their name.
Check a financial adviser
Is this person or company licensed by ASIC to give you advice or sell you this investment? Find out more at choosing a financial adviser.
Check an insurance broker or agent
Ask the person you're buying insurance from if they are covered by an Australian Financial Services (AFS) licence. If they are not covered by a licence, don't deal with them. If they say they are covered by an AFS licence, ask them for the name of the licence holder and check it on ASIC Connect's Professional Registers.
If they say they are an authorised representative you can also check them on ASIC Connect's Professional Registers.
The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority also has a register of insurers.
Read more about buying life insurance.
Check cars, boats, furniture, art or jewellery
If you are thinking about buying personal property valued over $5000 from a private individual, for example a car, boat, furniture, art or jewellery, you should make sure the property does not have a security interest held over it.
To check for as little as $2.00, search the Personal Property Securities Register (PPSR) kept by the Australian Financial Security Authority (AFSA).
If you buy something that still has money owing on it, it could be repossessed if it was used to secure a loan.
Check a product disclosure statement (PDS)
If you're thinking about investing in listed managed investment products (that is, investments that can be traded on a financial market), then the PDS must be lodged with ASIC. To check, you can search ASIC's OFFERlist database.
Ask the person you're talking to for the PDS of the product they're trying to sell you. The PDS should set out enough detail about the product for you to compare it to similar financial products. Discuss any things you are unsure about in the PDS with your financial adviser or the fund manager.
Find out more about managed funds.
Check a prospectus
Check if the issuer has lodged a prospectus with ASIC's OFFERlist database.
Find out more about prospectuses.
Check banned advisers and company managers
You can check ASIC Connect within 'banned and disqualified' for the names of people who have been banned from giving financial advice or directors who have been banned from managing a company.
Check a company
To check if the company is registered as an Australian company, search ASIC Connect within the 'organisation and business names' search.
Remember that finding the company name on our register does not mean it is a safe or legitimate company to deal with. You need to do your own independent checks. Find out more about choosing investments.
If you want to keep an eye on what companies are doing, subscribe to ASIC's free Company Alert service. You can enter the names of companies you want to watch and you'll get an email overnight to tell you what forms they've lodged.
Check company auditors or liquidators
If you want to find out if a company auditor or liquidator is registered, search ASIC Connect's Professional Registers.
Check a bank, building society or credit union
To see if a bank, building society or credit union is authorised to accept your money, see the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority's List of Authorised Deposit-taking Institutions.
Check on a credit provider or broker
Credit providers and brokers that are not licensed are operating illegally in Australia. Make sure you only deal with a company or person who is licensed.
Use ASIC Connect's Professional Registers to check your credit provider has been licensed or you can phone ASIC's Infoline on 1300 300 630.
For more information see consumer credit regulation.