Scam enquiries to watchdog surge by a third



Scam enquiries to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) surged by a third between April and September 2021.

The FCA received 16,400 scam enquiries during the period, according to data from its annual report.

This was an increase of a third on the same period in 2020.

The regulator said the increase was due to savers becoming more aware of the potential for scams, and knowing what action to take.

Over 1,836 consumer alerts were published during the period.

The FCA pension scam campaign in 2021 led to 29,000 visits to the ScamSmart website, with 1,295 people checking a pension offer with the Warning List, according to the regulator.

Helen Morrissey, senior pensions and retirement analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said the increase in enquiries could be a positive sign consumers are becoming more informed, but warned the scammers are well known for shifting tactics.

She said: “Scammers invade every area of our lives in their bid to get their hands on our hard-earned cash. It takes strong action to combat them as they target our pensions, investments and cash in every way possible – online, telephone and by letter. The FCA said it received 16,400 scam enquiries, up a third on the same period in 2020 and it has published over 1,800 consumer alerts on unauthorised firms and individuals.

“This could be a sign of scam activity growing and evolving – fraudsters are shapeshifters and are well known for changing their tactics to take advantage of current conditions.

“However, it could also be a positive sign that consumers are now much better informed about the risk of being scammed, understand the hallmarks of a fraudster and how to take appropriate action.

Unfortunately, there’s no room for complacency and fraudsters are always looking for new opportunities – the cost-of-living crisis will no doubt see a surge of new activity as they continue their bid to get their hands on people’s money. So, for example, we know there are already scams designed to take advantage of cost-of-living payments and confuse people into handing over their account details.”