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A disclosure document explains how a financial product or offering works. It also details the terms to which you must agree in order to buy it or use it, and, in some cases, the risks you assume in making such a purchase.
For example, publicly traded companies must provide all available information that might influence your decision to invest in the stocks or bonds they issue. Mutual fund companies are required to disclose the risks and costs associated with buying shares in the fund.
Government regulatory agencies, such as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), self-regulating organizations, state securities regulators, and NASD require such disclosures.
Similarly, federal and local governments require lenders to explain the costs of credit, and banks to explain the costs of opening and maintaining an account.
Despite the consumer benefits, disclosure information isn't always easily accessible. It may be expressed in confusing language, printed in tiny type, or so extensive that consumers choose to ignore it.