1. Check the firm is authorised by the Financial Regulators
Almost all financial services firms must be authorised by your financial regulatory– if they’re not, it’s probably a scam. You can Check the Financial Services Register to see if a firm is authorised or registered.
Always access the Register from the government website, rather than through links in emails or on the website of a firm offering you an investment. Even ours!
Ask for the firm’s ‘company reference number’ and check that the company reference number and contact details are the same as on the Regulator’s Register. If there are no contact details on the Register or if the firm claims they’re out of date, it’s probably a scam – call the Regulatory Consumer Helpline and verify the details.
If you use an unauthorised firm, you won’t have access to the Financial Ombudsman Service or if things go wrong – and you’re unlikely to get any money back.
If you’re dealing with an overseas firm, you should be extra alert and check with the regulator in that country and also check the scam warnings from foreign regulators.
2. Check the Regulatory Warning List
Use the Regulatory 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 regulator authorisation.
Even if a firm isn’t on the list, it may still be a scam – firms change names and details all the time.
3. Check it’s not a ‘clone firm’
A common scam is to pretend to be a genuine firm (called a ‘clone firm’) which it is vital that you always check and use the contact details on the Regulatory Register and not the details the ‘clone firm’ gives you.
You can also check the firm’s details with directory enquiries or Companies registrar to make sure they’re the same.
4. Get impartial advice or a second opinion
Always get independent advice before investing – if you are in any doubt, get second opinion from an adviser at a different firm.
5. If you’re suspicious, report it
You can report the firm or scam by contacting the Regulatory’s Consumer Helpline or contacting them via email.
If you’ve given your bank account details to a firm you think may be operating a scam, tell your bank immediately. If you’ve agreed to transfer your pension and now suspect a scam, contact your pension provider straight away. They may be able to stop a transfer that hasn’t taken place yet.
6. Avoid the ‘Suckers List’ & Be wary of future scams
If you’ve already invested in a scam, fraudsters are likely to target you again or sell your details to other criminals via the ‘suckers list’. Any follow-up scam may be completely different or could be related to a previous fraud, such as an offer to get your money back or to buy back the investment after you pay a fee.
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