The FCA’s contact centre received nearly 106,800 enquiries between 1 December 2015 and 30 November 2016, a decrease of 10% compared with the previous year.
By far, the most common reason for contacting the FCA was to check the status of firms to ensure they are authorised by the regulator. This was followed by customer service enquiries, and scams and financial crime.
As well as trying to help consumers with what they should do, the FCA monitors the information it receives as it can be a very valuable source of intelligence.
There were 11,650 (13% of the total) enquiries from consumers related to possible investment frauds and other scams.
Although Aegon’s head of pensions, Kate Smith, finds it “encouraging that people seem to be more alert about the potential of scams” she thinks it “is probably just the top of the iceberg”.
“The message does seem to be getting through and people are more likely to do their research if they’re suspicious and they sense something isn’t quite right. It’s also great to see the high level of calls (36%) coming from people to check if firms are authorised by the FCA.
“Government, regulators and the pension industry need to continue to work together to ensure this momentum accelerates to raise awareness and combat scams,” Smith said.
Along with other sources, the regulator uses it to inform its action against fraudulent and unauthorised activities.
Over half of the calls related to scams were from consumers over the age of 55.
There was a 42% increase in advance fee fraud, a typical example of which is a loan fee fraud where consumers are contacted with the offer of a loan and are asked to pay one or more advance fees to secure the loan but no loan is ever provided.
The second most common type of scam in boiler room scams, accounting for 28% of all calls, averaging 270 a month.
Scams with people claiming to be from the FCA increased 35%, year-on-year, where consumers are contacted by email, letter or phone in an attempt to extract money or personal details from the victim.
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