Fraudsters sometimes claim to be from legitimate firms authorised by us. Find out how to protect yourself and what to do if you are scammed.
Fraudsters are always looking for new ways to scam consumers.
One scam increasingly reported to us involves scammers pretending to be from firms we authorise.
These scammers may cold-call investors, but they may also contact you via marketing emails, social media platforms or you may receive calls after searching for investments and submitting your details online.
Clone firms may offer you investments in products such as bonds, shares, FX and cryptocurrency that are non-tradable, worthless, overpriced or even non-existent. Some clones offer services to obtain a loan or recover funds from previous investments for an advance fee.
Fraudsters often use details such as the name and address of authorised firms and individuals, and a 'firm registration number' (FRN) to suggest they are genuine.
This is what we call a 'clone firm'.
How clone firms work
Almost all firms and individuals carrying out financial services activities in the UK have to be authorised or registered by us.
Some fraudsters claim to represent authorised firms – or even try to change firms’ contact details on the Financial Services Register – to appear genuine.
- The scammers may give you their own phone number and other contact details.
- They may copy the website of an authorised firm, making subtle changes such as to the phone number.
- They may point you to the genuine firm’s website, but use different details to correspond with you.
- They may claim to be from overseas firms that appear on the FS Register, as these firms don’t always have their full contact and website details listed.
- They may claim that a firm's contact details on the FS Register are out of date. This is unlikely, as we update the FS Register every evening.
Scammers may also give you the details of individuals listed on the FS Register. That is why it’s important to check the firm’s record, to see what regulated activities they are permitted to do. If you want to contact the individual, you should contact the firm first.
We have even seen fake versions of the FCA website and the FS Register that include the fraudsters’ contact details rather than those of the genuine, authorised firm.
Remember: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
We strongly advise that you only deal with financial services firms that are authorised by us, and that you check the FS Register to ensure they are.
To verify the identity of an authorised firm, ask for their FRN and contact details, but always call them back on the switchboard number given on the FS Register.
If there are no contact details on the FS Register, or the firm claims they are out of date, contact our Consumer Helpline on 0800 111 6768.
You should access the FS Register directly from register.fca.org.uk (register.fca.org.uk/s/) rather than through links in emails or on the website of a firm offering you an investment.
Also, check the address of our website is correct and there are not subtle changes that mean it's a fake.
With fraudsters adapting their tactics, you should make extra checks to confirm you are dealing with the genuine financial services firm and that you have the correct contact details.
Check the details:
- on the firm’s website
- with directory enquiries
- with Companies House
There are more steps you can take to make sure you're dealing with the authorised firm – find out how to protect yourself from investment scams.
If you have been scammed
If you've been scammed or contacted by an unauthorised firm – or a firm you suspect is not legitimate – you can report to us by contacting our Consumer Helpline on 0800 111 6768.
Find out more about reporting a scam.