The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) required firms to either amend or remove their advertisement a total of 2,235 times in the first quarter of 2023, the regulator has revealed.
Some 47 authorised firms were involved in the clampdown.
The retail investments and retail lending sectors drew most (90%) of the requests to amend or withdraw an ad, the FCA reported. On top of this, the watchdog issued over 600 alerts about the activities of unauthorised firms and individuals – an increase of 15% from the 531 alerts issued in Q4 2022.
The FCA said it received 6,989 reports about potential unauthorised business in the first three months of this year. Clone scams, where fraudsters use authorised firms’ details, to present themselves as genuine, accounted for 12% of alerts in Q1 2023. In most cases, the regulator asked for the scammers’ websites to be taken down.
In addition, the FCA investigated unauthorised and authorised firms offering debt advice, resulting in nine alerts and the imposition of voluntary requirements on two firms. It also took action against a firm using a trading name which could potentially mislead consumers to believe that the firm was a not-for-profit organisation or part of a government scheme.
The regulator reviewed the marketing and promotion of speculative illiquid securities (SIS) too. It identified that some investments were being rolled over and some investors were being wrongly categorised as high net worth or sophisticated.
This comes after the FCA required firms to either amend or remove their advertisement a total of 8,582 times in 2022.
As part of its crackdown on misleading ads, the FCA is looking to introduce tougher checks for firms looking to approve financial promotions.