Potential abuse by corporate insiders of programmed stock trading plans has caught the attention of the Securities and Exchange Commission and rattled the nerves of corporate boards, which are scrambling to make sure the plans pass muster.

A 2000 SEC rule change allowed corporate officers, directors and other insiders to create stock trading plans under SEC Rule 10b5-1, which spread stock trades over a prearranged period, to insulate officers from potential claims of illegal trading on inside knowledge.