The FCA made the plea following a survey that showed a fifth (22%) of over 55-year-olds who suspected they had been contacted about a fraudulent investment in the past three years did not tell anyone about it.
The most common reason for staying silent, given by 49% of respondents, was that they did not know who to report to.
While 63% say they would report a suspected investment scam to an organisation, this is significantly lower than those who would report spilled liquids in a supermarket (84%) or fly tipping in their local area (81%).
Mark Steward, director of enforcement at the FCA, says he wants people to speak out about scams in the same way they would report a crime in their local area.
“It’s clear to see that by reporting suspicious investment schemes to the FCA, people are having a direct impact in helping to stop fraudsters exploiting others,” Steward says.
“But there is still more we can all do and we need the public’s help,” he says.
Naming and shaming
The regulator says reports from the public help to inform action to protect consumers.
The FCA publishes warnings about potentially fraudulent firms on the FCA Warning List, an online tool that helps investors check a list of firms operating without authorisation.
The list currently contains details of 4,000 firms to avoid.
Staying one step ahead
Andrew Johnson, money expert at the Money Advice Service, supports Steward’s call to speak out and has urged consumers to stay alert as scammers find new and innovative ways to commit fraud.
“Scammers often have very convincing websites with testimonial and marketing material, which make them look like a legitimate company,” Johnson said.
“Reject any unsolicited calls, emails, text messages or visitors to your door… check the FCA register of regulated companies, or the FCA warning list if you are thinking about an investment opportunity and consider independent financial advice from an FCA regulated firm,” he said.
The FCA received 8,000 reports of potential scams last year, with Londoners (42%) reporting the highest number of complaints, followed by Birmingham, Belfast and Guildford.
Additionally, in 2016, the regulator returned more than £3m ($3.95m, €3.36m) to victims of unauthorised activity, including investment fraud.