If you want to report potential wrongdoing to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), you are protected by the SEC Whistleblower Program. The program, created by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Protection Act, offers employment protections as well as a monetary incentive to report a tip to the SEC. You don’t have to work for a company to report possible fraud, however, finance, compliance and accounting employees are more likely to have access to specific transactions that are potential violations.
Despite the reward and employment protections, people still hesitate to contact the SEC even though it is possible to make an anonymous report through an attorney. Often, individuals don’t want to get their employer in trouble, however, with media accounts of multi-million dollar whistleblower rewards, someone else will make the report first. If you wait, and another person has already provided the exact same information, your information isn’t original and you won’t be eligible for a reward.
Report your concerns through your company’s internal compliance mechanisms, then make your report to the SEC within 120 days. If you fear retaliation for making an internal report, contact an SEC whistleblower attorney for guidance.
The SEC will reward individuals or a group of individuals that report possible federal securities law, if the information results in a recovery exceeding $1 million. You may receive anywhere from 10 percent to 30 percent of the amount recovered, based on the usefulness of your information. An SEC whistleblower attorney will work to get you the largest possible reward.
It’s essential to select a law firm with expertise in the SEC Whistleblower program and experience representing whistleblowers. You will be dealing with your lawyer and the law firm’s staff for years until the case resolves, so select a firm where you feel comfortable and where you feel confident that they will handle your case with discretion and integrity.
If you still are wondering what you should do, consult an SEC whistleblower attorney anonymously. You don’t have to tell him or her the name of the firm where you work. Once you have a better understanding of the program, you can decide if you want give the SEC your tip.