The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has revealed that 32% of those aged 75 or over suspect they have been offered fraudulent investment “opportunities”.
Over a fifth (22%) of those aged 55 and over, with above average incomes, also claim to have been targeted by investment scams. The FCA is urging people, particularly the elderly, to research any potential investments before committing their cash. It was also revealed that victims of investment fraud each lost £32,000 on average last year. The ScamSmart campaign launched by the FCA aims to protect consumers from fraud, featuring a tool called the Warning List. This is a list of fraudsters known to the FCA listed on the ScamSmart website. This enables anyone that is unsure about an investment broker to check that they aren’t already listed as untrustworthy.
Why Are Over 55s Being Targeted?
Pension freedoms coupled with poor interest rates on savings accounts mean that people nearing retirement age or in retirement already are likely to be in the market for investment products with good returns. Alarmingly, 14% of over 55s who have invested in financial products have spent little or no time researching the investment before handing over money, with 26% of over 75s reporting the same. Those that do look into investment companies are in danger of not conducting proper checks either. The FCA said:
“The most common check carried out before investing in a financial product was to look at a company’s website (41%). However, investment fraudsters and unauthorised firms are known to create highly professional-looking websites to entice victims, reinforcing how other checks need to be done to make sure an investment is genuine. Far fewer (27%) sought professional, impartial advice, a check the FCA encourages consumers to do before investing”.
To avoid becoming a victim of investment fraud, the FCA advises consumers to do the following:
- Reject unsolicited contact about investments
- Check the FCA Register to see if the organisation you are dealing with is authorised
- Check the FCA Warning List of firms to avoid
- Get impartial advice before investing
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