Between January 2021 and 31 March 2022 more than £25 million has been lost to scammers. 

    Research by the FCA has shown that only 51% of people would check the FCA’s Warning List before making an investment. That’s leaving just under half of all investors open to the risk of being scammed.

    Over the last few years people have become more familiar with working from home and conducting business through a laptop or mobile device. Scammers are aware of this and are taking advantage. 

    The FCA has highlighted that a common tactic being used is through screen sharing

    This is where you unwittingly give access to your device to someone posing as an investment adviser or offering help with setting up a new account. The scammer will ask for you to download legitimate screen sharing software like Microsoft Teams or Zoom. 

    Once downloaded the scammer will ask to share your screen and enable remote access, all under the guise of helping you with your investments. Once they have access to the screen, they also have control of the device which can include access to bank details. 

    Typically, scams using technology target an older demographic

    However, research by the FCA showed that just over a quarter (26%) of 18-34-year-olds would agree to share their screen with someone they had not met showing that any age group can be a victim of these scams. 

    Through a YouGov poll the FCA found that 32% of pension holders between 45 and 65 would not know how to check that they are speaking with a legitimate pension’s adviser or provider. This latest campaign from the FCA is aiming to help raise awareness of how to check this. 

    Using the ScamSmart tool on the FCA website anyone can check if an investment they have been told about is potentially a scam. So, if your clients are considering a new investment (potentially carbon credits or foreign exchange) remind them they can enter the investment type and they’ll then be shown details confirming if there’s any warnings associated with that investment. 

    As an example, carbon credits are not regulated by the FCA and any investment would not be protected by the UK’s Financial Services Compensation Scheme meaning that they would be unlikely to get any money back if something goes wrong.  

    Fraudulent foreign exchange (forex) derivatives trading firms are currently targeting UK consumers so if considering foreign exchange as an investment opportunity remember to check if they are authorised by the FCA. If not, then there’s a high chance that it could be a scam. By reminding your clients of these checks, you will be providing them with comfort that they are being protected. 

    After using the ScamSmart tool you can direct your clients or potential clients to the FCA's Warning List. This will allow them to see a list that shows all known firms that are operating without FCA authorisation. Even if a firm isn’t on the Warning List it may still be a scam. 

    If your clients or someone you know is considering a new type of investment and they are unsure whether it’s legitimate, then the FCA recommends asking yourself three questions:

    1. Have you checked the FCA’s ScamSmart website and Warning List?

    This will give you the information you need to check that the firm is authorised or if they are known to be suspicious.

    2. Are you being asked to download anything new?

    A legitimate financial institution would never ask for access to your screen as they would already have the information from your account on their platform.

    3. Have you navigated away from your banking or investment platform?

    If you access a search engine or advert online, you could accidentally click on a fraudulent link.

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