Tips for investors from the Securities and Exchange Commission for avoiding stock fraud. Before investing in small-company stocks, the SEC advises:

_Be aware that many small companies do not file periodic reports with the SEC, making it difficult to get information about their management, products, services and finances.

_Call your state securities regulator and ask whether the broker and his or her firm are licensed and if there's a record of investor complaints or fraud against them. To locate your state regulator, call the North American Securities Administrators Association at 202-737-0900 or go to its Web site at

_Check independently the truth of every statement about the company, especially those made in press releases or newsletters and on the Internet.

_Don't fall for promises of quick profits or guaranteed returns on investments, or be pressured into investing before doing research.

_Get a free copy of the SEC brochure, ``Microcap Stock: A Guide for Investors,'' available at the agency's Web site at or by calling 1-800-732-0330.