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AC 460 Fraud Examination: Research Tools: Edgar Reports, Company Information and Business Databases

EDGAR Reports

The US Securities and Exchange Commission's mission is to protect investors, maintain fair, orderly, and efficient markets, and facilitate capital formation. All companies, foreign and domestic, are required to file registration statements, periodic reports, and other forms electronically through EDGAR. Anyone can access and download this information for free. Here you'll find links to a complete list of filings available through EDGAR and instructions for searching the EDGAR database.

Internet Sources for Company Information

Getting Started on research

1)  Know your terms.  
What kinds of accounting fraud are you researching?  

Examples of search terms to use in the Find Books, Articles + More box above

  • forensic accounting
  • accounting fraud
  • fraud prevention 
  • misleading financial statements
  • white collar crime investigation 

2) Research the company involved in the fraud case.  Use the library databases Business Source Complete or Business Insights: Essentials to research company information. 

3) Look for legal information. Use the library database LegalTrac to search for legal issues.  Use the New York Times Historical database to research famous fraud cases.

4). Research the key people involved.  Use the library business databases to investigate the key players.  

5. Investigate the EDGAR filings for the company.  What accounting firm was involved in the case?

Company Information: Public Companies

A public company has shares of stock that represent an ownership interest in the company and those shares are traded openly on one or more stock exchange like the NASDQ or NYSE. Public Companies in the United States must file various forms and documents with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission detailing their financial performance and governance structure. Because of these regulatory requirements, information on many public companies is relatively easy to find.

Hint: Knowing the ticker symbol (or stock symbol) of the public company that you are researching can save you a lot of time when researching public companies.

What is a ticker symbol?

A ticker symbol is an abbreviation that symbolizes the companies' stock name. For example, Cisco Systems has CSCO as its ticker symbol. Find the ticker symbol for a company.

Private Companies

A private company is a company that is not traded on any stock exchange. Private companies as a general rule do not have to file any documents with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Consequently, finding information on private companies can be quite challenging.

Business Databases

Industrial Classification (SIC and NAICS codes)

When researching industry information, it is helpful to find the NAICS or SIC code for that industry, though all the industry databases also allow a keyword search.  The federal government assigns these codes to business segments for data collection and reporting purposes.  NAICS (North American Industry Classification System) codes were adopted in 1997 to replace the old Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) system.  Many research resources, such as databases, utilize NAICS and/or SIC codes for searching purposes.  You can search many of the library databases by NAICS and/or SIC code to get industry information.

Example 1:  if you want to study the ice cream manufacturing industry, you would look up the 2007 NAICS code from the link, below, and note that it is 311520