What is Naked Short Selling? • Benzinga explains

Short selling is legal if an investor has borrowed shares first. Without borrowing stocks, investors who sell them short are engaging in an illegal practice of naked short selling. This type of trading can be alluring for investors willing to profit without taking risks, but its consequences are serious.

Investors should avoid engaging in naked short selling and should know how to spot securities whose existence has not been determined. Benzinga provides a guide on naked short sale to help investors increase their chances of engaging in safe and legal transactions.

What is Naked Short Selling?

To understand naked short selling, investors need to know how short selling works. Investors who believe the value of a stock will fall can take advantage of this by opening a sell position. Since investors do not own shares when they sell them, they must borrow them from a broker.

After borrowing shares from a broker, the investor sells them on the open market. Once the value of the stock decreases, the investor buys them and returns the borrowed stock to the broker. If the purchase price is lower than the sale price, the investor profits from the difference. Closing a short sale position with a higher buy price than the sell price causes the investor to suffer a loss of the difference.

Investors engaged in a naked short sale do not borrow shares before selling them. They sell shares that they do not own or whose existence is not confirmed. Stocks that are not available to cover a short position are exposed to being naked. A seller under pressure to close a position may not deliver the shares to the broker because they were not borrowed. Discrepancies between paper and electronic trading systems and loopholes in trading rules facilitate naked short selling.

Naked short sale indications are usually when a transaction is not delivered by the seller to the buyer within the mandatory settlement period. This trading strategy is very risky but can provide investors with significant profits. It can also negatively impact the liquidity of a certain stock in the market.

What is a margin account?

Investors wishing to increase the size of their positions can use a margin account. It is a brokerage account that lends money to traders to buy securities. The broker uses the purchased securities and cash to secure the loan.

Margin trading increases the purchasing power of the investor due to borrowed money. This allows the investor to lock in bigger profits or suffer bigger losses. Some brokers offer margin accounts with periodic interest rates.

Using a margin account best suited for expert traders who know how to manage risk and have a high level of understanding of this strategy.

Why is naked short selling illegal?

The legal practice of selling stocks requires investors to borrow them before opening a short position. In naked short selling, investors do not borrow stocks. They cannot prove that they own the shares they sold short, and the existence of naked short shares may not be determined.

Naked short selling has caused many trades to fail because naked short sellers cannot take ownership of stocks they have never borrowed. The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) banned naked short selling after the 2008 global financial crisis.

The main reason for the ban was the growing trend of equity fail-to-deliver (FTD). The SEC has removed loopholes in Regulation SHO to prevent broker-dealers from allowing naked short selling. Another risk of FTD on settlement date is the possibility of stock price manipulation.

Identify bare short

One way to identify naked shorts is to follow the listings that the SEC requires to publish securities that drive high FTD volumes. Investors should watch out for stocks identified as consistently failing to be delivered by the seller to the buyer within the required settlement period.

What is the impact of Naked Shorting on the market?

Naked short selling can artificially lower the price of a stock, even if the stock is not available. Investors who hold the stock may become nervous due to the falling price, prompting them to sell their shares to avoid losses.

Since naked short selling allows investors to participate without owning shares, liquidity can increase if demand for shares increases. Significant FTD shares may deprive shareholders of their ownership rights.

Compare the best short sale brokers

To engage in legal short selling, investors must choose a regulated broker. Benzinga provides an overview of the best short sale brokers that are guaranteed to engage you in safe trades.

  • Best for

    Short sale over $25,000

  • securely through the CenterPoint Securities website
  • Best for

    Global Global Broker for Short Selling

  • Best for

    Active and global traders

    securely through the IBKR Stocks & ETFs website

Frequently Asked Questions

questions and answers


Is naked short selling a crime?


The US SEC has banned naked short selling. It is considered an illegal business practice and participants may be fined or charged with a crime.


How do you know if someone is selling naked short?


Naked short sellers may not deliver shares when they close a short position because they did not borrow them.


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