While Investor Protections Diminish, A Stock Market Game Helps Investors Protect Themselves

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The JOBS Act removes longstanding protections for investors. Smart Stock, a virtual investing game, gives inexperienced investors excited about a surging market participation without risk.

Our game is an engaging way for new investors to learn the ropes and those with more experience to test investment strategies without risking a lot of money.

A new law to stimulate job creation removes longstanding protections for investors. For inexperienced investors excited about a surging market, a game that allows participation without risk is an attractive option.

The JOBS (Jumpstart Our Business Startups) Act, Which President Obama signed into law April 5, was designed to make it easier for new companies to go public by removing red tape. But many see this easing of regulations as an opening for stock market fraud.

"Experts agree that this legislation will unleash a new wave of damaging investment fraud, undermine market transparency, and increase the cost of capital for the small companies it purports to benefit," said Barbara Roper, Director of Investor Protection at Consumer Federation of America.

This comes at a time when new investors are hoping to delve into the stock market. Many see Wall Street posting its best first quarter since 1998 as a sign of real economic improvement. Still, some prospective investors prefer a stock market game where they can gain experience without exposing themselves to fraud or market swings to jumping into the market head first.

Smart Stocks allows participants to use virtual money to buy and sell stocks as they actually appear on the market. With a free account, members get $1 million in virtual money to invest as they choose. They can measure their success against other virtual investors on Smart Stocks. Many college finance courses and stock brokerage firms use the stock market simulator to give students and stock brokers experience trading.

"There is no better way to learn about the stock market than by participating in it," said Freebody Mensah, Vice President of Smart Stocks. "Our game is an engaging way for new investors to learn the ropes and those with more experience to test investment strategies without risking a lot of money."

The Smart Stocks website features educational material and is in the process of adding certifications to help users learn the ins and outs of the market.

Mensah said the goal is to help people build confidence in their ability to prosper in the stock market. This ideal is shared by analysts who fear increases in fraud following the JOBS Act passage could undermine fragile investor confidence.

"Too often, investors are the target of fraudulent schemes disguised as investment opportunities," SEC Chairperson Mary L. Schapiro wrote to the Senate banking committee. "As you know, if the balance is tipped to the point where investors are not confident that there are appropriate protections, investors will lose confidence in our markets, and capital formation will ultimately be made more difficult and expensive."

Hopefully, if investors can become more sophisticated in identifying good investments through tools like Smart Stocks, they'll be better able to avoid these fraudulent schemes on their own.

To join Smart Stocks for free, sign up for an account at smartstocks.com.

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Freebody Mensah