Always Do Your Homework Before You Invest:

In addition to thoroughly researching and understanding the investment at issue, before making an investment with a new financial adviser or broker, it is a good idea to investigate the person's background and qualifications. 

FINRA, aka the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, has a great tool. Using FINRA's Broker Check tool, you can check a prospective financial adviser or broker's employment history, certifications, and licenses—as well as regulatory actions, violations or complaints.

A legitimate broker must be properly licensed, and his or her firm, must be registered with FINRA, the SEC, and a state securities regulator-- depending on the type of business the firm conducts.  By investing with reputable individuals and firms who are registered with FINRA, you are likely to have more recourse if any fraudulent or improper conduct occurs.

With so many reputable firms and individuals available, why take a chance with someone who is not registered? 

Here is a link to the Broker Check Tool: