Before working with a financial adviser, you should do a complete background check. Start by contacting your state securities administrator to see if the individual or firm you...

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Before working with a financial adviser, you should do a complete background check.

Start by contacting your state securities administrator to see if the individual or firm you are considering has been the subject of complaints or discipline.

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Find contact information for your state through the North American Securities Administrators Association at www.nasaa.org.

For financial advisers, check out Form ADV. Part 1 of this form — which shows the disciplinary history of the firm and individual — is available online through the Securities and Exchange Commission at www.adviserinfo.sec.gov.

Syndicated columnist Chuck Jaffe produces Financial Housekeeping.