FCA warns unauthorised firms against seeking to take advantage of the cost of living crisis

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has today revealed that between July and September this year, it has intervened to amend or withdraw 4,151 financial promotions, the highest since it started publishing the data.

Related topics:  FCA,  scams
Tabitha Lambie | Editorial assistant, Barcadia Media
4th November 2022
FCA logo
"This is why changes to the Online Safety Bill to cover paid-for financial services advertising online are very much needed right now."
- Mark Steward, FCA executive director of enforcement and market oversight

Retail lending, investments, and banking had the highest rate of amends to or withdrawal of adverts, amounting to 95% of the FCA’s interventions with authorised firms.

The FCA also highlighted in its report that it saw several cases involving unauthorised firms and individuals seeking to take advantage of the rising cost of living crisis. 303 warnings were issued, of which over 20% were about clone scams.  

For example, the FCA’s intervention resulted in 66 Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) promotions from one firm across various social media platforms being amended or withdrawn. It said the adverts did not give fair or prominent risk warnings and were misleading about fees. Although the FCA does not yet regulate BNPL, it warned BNPL firms about misleading promotions earlier this year.  

The FCA also found evidence of scam mail lists being used to carry out ‘loan fee’ or ‘advanced fee’ fraud. Since the cost of living crisis, this type of scam has become increasingly more common.

Consequently, the FCA relaunched its ScamSmart campaign around loan fee fraud last summer to help raise awareness among borrowers that might be in vulnerable circumstances.  

Commenting on these findings, Mark Steward, FCA executive director of enforcement and market oversight, has said:

“As consumers feel the financial squeeze, they could be tempted by high-risk, unregulated products, and services or they could become a target for scammers preying on moments of vulnerability. 

“As a result, we’re doing even more to tackle false claims in adverts, issue prompt warnings to consumers, and continue to engage with the largest tech and social media platforms as they also play an important part in protecting consumers from online harm.”

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