Bitcoin Electronic Crypto Currency Exchange Concept Illustration

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) cautioned investors on Wednesday about trading digital assets such as cryptocurrencies, tokens and digital coins, through online trading platforms that appear to operate like traditional securities exchanges.

“To get the protections offered by the federal securities laws and SEC oversight when trading digital assets that are securities, investors should use a platform or entity registered with the SEC, such as a national securities exchange, alternative trading system, or broker-dealer,” the SEC says in a statement issued by its enforcement and trading and markets divisions.

The SEC reports its staff is concerned that “many online trading platforms appear to investors as SEC-registered and regulated marketplaces when they are not.”

The regulator notes that many of these platforms call themselves “exchanges,” which could lead investors to believe, incorrectly, that they are dealing with a platform that meets SEC standards.

At the same time, the SEC says that operators of online trading platforms that trade in securities must adhere to the SEC’s rules for exchanges and alternative trading systems. Offering services such as storing of certain digital assets may also trigger registration requirements, the SEC says.

“SEC staff will continue to focus on platforms that offer trading of digital assets and their compliance with the federal securities laws,” the regulator says.