Fraudsters sometimes say they work for genuine, authorised firms. Find out how to protect yourself from these clone firms and how to spot the warning signs.First published: 29/03/2016 Last updated: 22/03/2023 See all updates
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Fraudsters are always looking for new ways to scam the public. One of these involves pretending to be from firms we authorise. We call this a clone firm.
How clone firms work
Almost all financial firms in the UK must be authorised by us. Clone firms aren’t authorised, but scammers may try and convince you that they are.
They'll often use the name and address of a genuine firm, or they may copy the firm reference number (FRN).
They may also:
- copy the website of an authorised firm, making small changes (for example, to the phone number)
- point you to the genuine firm’s website, but use different details to contact you
- give you the details of a genuine firm but give you the wrong phone number
- use email addresses that look similar to the genuine firm’s or use providers such as Outlook or Gmail
They may even claim that a firm's contact details on the FS Register are out of date.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 contact you unexpectedly by phone or email, but they may also get in touch via newsletters or social media.
They might even reach out to you after you search for loans or investments, and submit your details online. The scammers may offer you investments in products such as bonds, shares, foreign exchange (FX) and cryptocurrencies that are non-tradable, worthless, overpriced or even non-existent.
Avoid clone firms
Make sure you only deal with financial firms that are authorised by us.
To check the identity of an authorised firm, ask for their FRN and contact details. But always call them back on the number given on the FS Register.
With fraudsters constantly changing their tactics, you should make extra checks to make sure you’re dealing with the genuine firm.
Aside from the FS Register, you can check the firm’s details:
- on the firm’s website
- with directory enquiries
- with Companies House
If you visit the FS Register (https://register.fca.org.uk/s/), always check the website address is correct and there aren’t any small changes that mean it's fake.
Find out more about how to protect yourself from scams.
Report a clone firm
If you’re worried about a potential scam, or you think you may have been contacted by a fraudster, report it to us. Call us on 0800 111 6768 or use our contact form to get in touch.