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Monday, 23rd January 2017
Some fraudsters contact people and firms through emails, letters and on the phone, claiming to be from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
Caller ID spoofing
The FCA say scammers are making their switchboard number – 020 7066 1000 – appear in the caller ID of people they contact. Ofcom explains how to avoid ‘caller ID spoofing’ more here (link is external) and why not to give any information to these people or call them back.
How fake FCA correspondence works
The scammers may contact you by email, post or a phone call and claim to be from the FCA or use the name of an employee, to give the impression that the communication is genuine. The fake emails and letters may contain their logo or other images taken from their website or publications. The fraudsters may say you owe them money or ask for personal information such as copies of your payslips or passport.
You may also be told you are entitled to a sum of money, perhaps because they have collected it from a bank, and that they need your bank account details to make the payment. However, the fraudsters intend to access your account, using the details you have given them, to remove money from it.
How to protect yourself
Remember: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is! Keep in mind that the FCA would never contact members of the public asking for money or your bank account details. The correspondence is likely to be linked to organised fraud and the FCA strongly advises you not to respond to the criminals in any way.
Signs of a fake email
Look for signs that the email, letter or phone call may not be from the FCA, such as it listing a mobile or overseas contact phone number, an email address from a hotmail or gmail account, or a foreign PO Box number. Scam emails or letters often contain spelling mistakes and poor grammar.
How to verify if it is the FCA contacting you
If you are in any doubt about the authenticity of contact from the FCA, call our Consumer Helpline on 0800 111 6768. There are more steps you can take to protect yourself from unauthorised firms.
More fake communication scams
Fraudsters also claim to be from the Financial Ombudsman Service), Financial Services Compensation Scheme and Money Advice Service and ask people for their personal details or money.
HMRC – fake calls and emails
You should also beware of emails or calls claiming to be from HMRC and offering a tax rebate. HMRC never sends emails or calls about tax rebates, or asks for personal or payment information in this way. For more information see HMRC’s examples of phishing emails here (link is external).
Full FCA press release here