The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) warn that scammers are targeting consumers searching for investments online, in particular through search engines like Google and Bing.
Scams are increasingly sophisticated. Fraudsters can be articulate and financially knowledgeable, with credible websites, testimonials and materials that are hard to distinguish from the real thing.
Warning Signs of Scams
- Cold-calls by phone, email, social media, post, word of mouth or even in person at an exhibition
- A limited time opportunity – they might offer you a bonus or discount if you invest before a set date or say the opportunity is only available for the next 24 hours or similar
- Lots of testimonials – all fake of course
- Unrealistic returns – some fraudsters offer the same returns as legitimate businesses do, but many want to attract more attention and offer impossibly high and even guaranteed returns.
- False authority – using convincing literature and websites, claiming to be regulated, speaking with authority on investment products.
- Flattery – building a friendship with you to lull you into a false sense of security.
- Remote access – scammers may pretend to help you and ask you to download software or an app so they can access to your device. This could enable them to access your bank account or make payments using your card.
FCA Authorised Businesses
Almost all financial services firms must be authorised by the FCA – the exceptions are for specific traded items such as wine
Check the Financial Services Register on the FCA website to see if a firm or individual is authorised or registered with us.
Check if the firm’s ‘firm reference number’ (FRN) and contact details are the same as on our Register.
If there are no contact details on the Register or if the firm claims they’re out of date, call our Consumer Helpline on 0800 111 6768.
If you use an unauthorised firm, you won’t have access to the Financial Ombudsman Service or Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) if things go wrong – and you’re unlikely to get your money back.
Check the FCA Warning List
Use the FCA Warning List to check the risks of a potential investment – you can also search to see if the firm is known to be operating without our authorisation.
You should seriously consider seeking financial advice or guidance before investing. You should make sure that any firm you deal with is regulated by us and never take investment advice from the company that contacted you, as this may be part of the scam.
You can report the firm or scam to the FCA by contacting their Consumer Helpline on 0800 111 6768.
The Financial Conduct Authority is at https://www.fca.org.uk/
If you have any experiences with these scams do let me know, by email.