The UK’s financial watchdog has issued a warning about a growing trend of scammers posing as the regulatory body itself.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has cautioned that these impostors aim to deceive individuals into divulging money or sensitive information like bank account PINs and passwords.
According to the FCA, the public has reported more than 7,700 cases of this type of scam to its contact center in the current year.
Reports of such scams have more than doubled since 2021, with fraudsters often claiming compensation is owed to the target and then requesting bank details or a processing fee for supposed “payment.”
FCA urges caution, encourages website verification
The FCA emphasized that it does not communicate with people in this manner, advising recipients of such requests to hang up or ignore corresponding emails.
Steve Smart, an executive director of enforcement at the FCA, encouraged those concerned about potential scam interactions to verify details on the FCA’s official website.
The FCA has been intensifying its scrutiny of scams, considering the financial strains on households due to escalating living costs.
This follows a UK Finance report that revealed £1.2 billion was lost to fraud in the UK during 2022, equivalent to approximately £2,300 per minute. Fraudulent activities involving payment cards were the most common.
To combat these issues, the government introduced a new fraud strategy this year, which includes empowering banks to hold off on processing payments for a longer duration to enable investigations into suspicious transactions.
Collaborating with the government, the FCA is also working towards banning unsolicited calls for all consumer financial services and products.
This would extend to salespeople not being able to make cold calls to sell any kind of insurance or financial product.
The FCA’s interactions with the public have revealed various types of financial scams, such as “boiler room” schemes where con artists cold-call potential investors with worthless or fake shares and bonds.