SEC Warns That Retirement Accounts’ Crypto Stakes May Be Unregistered Securities

The agency issued an investor alert flagging self-directed retirement accounts that may be provided bad information about their crypto holdings.

AccessTimeIconFeb 7, 2023 at 5:09 p.m. UTC
Updated Feb 7, 2023 at 5:19 p.m. UTC
10 Years of Decentralizing the Future
May 29-31, 2024 - Austin, TexasThe biggest and most established global event for everything crypto, blockchain and Web3.Register Now

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) again made its case Tuesday that crypto assets are often unregistered securities being traded on unregistered exchanges, issuing an investor alert warning that people should be wary of crypto in individual retirement accounts (IRA).

Self-directed IRAs sometimes offer crypto investments, the SEC said, and those “may be securities that are offered without SEC registration or a valid exemption from registration, and may not be accompanied by complete or accurate information to aid investors in making informed decisions.”

The agency, which has been waging this legal contest on multiple fronts against the crypto industry, also cautioned investors about the companies handling cryptocurrency trading.

“Many of the trading platforms for these crypto assets refer to themselves as ‘exchanges,’ which may give investors the misimpression that they have registered with the SEC,” according to the investor alert.

For its part, industry lobbyists and company executives have routinely maintained that the agency isn’t providing a realistic pathway for exchange registration, and they've argued that many cryptocurrencies aren’t securities.


Please note that our privacy policy, terms of use, cookies, and do not sell my personal information has been updated.

CoinDesk is an award-winning media outlet that covers the cryptocurrency industry. Its journalists abide by a strict set of editorial policies. In November 2023, CoinDesk was acquired by the Bullish group, owner of Bullish, a regulated, digital assets exchange. The Bullish group is majority-owned by; both companies have interests in a variety of blockchain and digital asset businesses and significant holdings of digital assets, including bitcoin. CoinDesk operates as an independent subsidiary with an editorial committee to protect journalistic independence. CoinDesk employees, including journalists, may receive options in the Bullish group as part of their compensation.

Jesse Hamilton

Jesse Hamilton is CoinDesk's deputy managing editor for global policy and regulation. He doesn't hold any crypto.

Learn more about Consensus 2024, CoinDesk's longest-running and most influential event that brings together all sides of crypto, blockchain and Web3. Head to to register and buy your pass now.