- The FCA said it received 16,400 scam enquiries between April and September 2021, up a third on the same period in 2020.
- Over 1,836 consumer alerts were published.
- There are signs people are more aware of the potential for scams and know what action to take.
- The FCA pension scam campaign led to 29,000 visits to the ScamSmart website, and 1,295 people checked a pension offer with the Warning List.
- Scammers are well known for shifting tactics so people must remain vigilant.
The FCA has published its Annual Report and Accounts Annual Report and Accounts 2021/22 (fca.org.uk)
Helen Morrissey, senior pensions and retirement analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown:
“Scammers invade every area of our lives in their bid to get their hands on our hard-earned cash. It takes strong action to combat them as they target our pensions, investments and cash in every way possible – online, telephone and by letter. The FCA said it received 16,400 scam enquiries, up a third on the same period in 2020 and it has published over 1,800 consumer alerts on unauthorised firms and individuals.
This could be a sign of scam activity growing and evolving – fraudsters are shapeshifters and are well known for changing their tactics to take advantage of current conditions.
However, it could also be a positive sign that consumers are now much better informed about the risk of being scammed, understand the hallmarks of a fraudster and how to take appropriate action.
Unfortunately, there’s no room for complacency and fraudsters are always looking for new opportunities – the cost-of-living crisis will no doubt see a surge of new activity as they continue their bid to get their hands on people’s money. So, for example, we know there are already scams designed to take advantage of cost-of-living payments and confuse people into handing over their account details.”
Hallmarks of scam activity
1.Contact out of the blue
This could be an offer to do a free pension review for instance or the offer of a great investment opportunity. If you didn’t ask to be contacted, then this is a real red flag. They could also call pretending to be from somewhere like your bank wanting to check details. If this is the case say you will call them back. Don’t use the number they give you as you will just go back through to them. If you can go online to find a telephone number and contact them that way to explain what has happened. Also try to call on a different phone, scammers sometimes remain on the line.
2.Sounds too good to be true
It could be an investment promising stellar, or even guaranteed returns. As a rule of thumb if it sounds too good to be true then it often is.
3.They pressure you to make a quick decision
No financial adviser would expect you to make a quick decision without taking the time to assess all the risks.
4.They are persistent/aggressive
Fraudsters will try and bully you into making a decision, especially if they think you are starting to reconsider. Don’t be scared to terminate contact whether that be putting down the phone or terminating email contact.
Often the case with email contact – the email itself can look genuine but when you look at the email text there are spelling mistakes or poor grammar. It’s also worth looking at the sender’s email as there will often be subtle spelling differences that show it hasn’t come from who it says.