FINANCIAL INDUSTRY NEWS
It’s officially Summer
June marks the start of Summer, at least meteorologically and for once, it does feel as though Summer has arrived, so long as you can dodge the rather ferocious thunderstorms.
It won’t be long until the Government heads off on their summer recess, but judging by the lack of recent legislative changes in the financial world, it feels almost as though they have gone already. You sense that Brexit is dominating their agenda. Brexit also appears to be hanging over the Stock Markets at the moment with lots of comments about ‘wait and see’ and ‘treading water’. We continue to monitor the situation with the Discretionary Fund Managers we work with.
However, whilst things are nice and quiet, it is often a good idea to take in some of the excellent events that are being held this summer. We are big advocates of getting out and about and living life to the full, which is endorsed by our latest ‘Health and Wellbeing’ article from Niky Dix, which we would encourage you to read. So here are some ideas to whet your appetite:
If you have any questions concerning any of these matters, please do not hesitate to contact us and we would be very happy to assist.
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How to avoid investment and pension scams
A survey from Action Fraud, the National Fraud and Cyber Crime Reporting Centre, showed that £1.2bn is lost to investment scams in the UK every year and experienced investors are often targeted.
To help with this problem, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) recently launched an excellent website called ‘ScamSmart’ which allows people to check whether an investment 'opportunity' is all it is cracked up to be. We continue to hear uncomfortable stories concerning this matter and it can be very distressing for those involved. We all have to be vigilant.
Scams are increasingly sophisticated. Fraudsters can be articulate and financially knowledgeable, with credible websites, testimonials and materials that are hard to distinguish from the real thing. But if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Therefore, if you suspect a scam, do consider these key points:
A. Reject unexpected offers
If you are contacted out of the blue about an investment opportunity, chances are it’s a high risk investment or a scam. Scammers usually cold-call, but contact can also come by email, post, word of mouth or at a seminar or exhibition.
B. Spot the warning signs
Fraudsters will often apply pressure to invest quickly. They might offer you a bonus or discount if you invest before a set date or say the opportunity is only available for a short period. They may also downplay the risks to your money and promise tempting returns that sound too good to be true, such as better interest rates than are available elsewhere.
C. Check if a firm is FCA-authorised
Almost all financial services firms must be authorised by the FCA – if they’re not, it’s probably a scam. Check the FCA Financial Services Register to see if a firm or individual is authorised or registered with them. Always access the Register from their website, rather than through links in emails or on the website of a firm offering you an investment.
D. Check the FCA Warning List
Use the FCA Warning List to check the risks of a potential investment – you can also search to see if the firm is known to be operating without their authorisation. Even if a firm isn’t on their list, it may still be a scam – firms change names and details all the time.
E. Check it’s not a ‘clone firm’
A common scam is to pretend to be a genuine firm (called a ‘clone firm’). Always use the contact details on the Register, not the details the firm gives you. You should also check the firm’s details with directory enquiries or Companies House to make sure they’re the same.
F. If you’re suspicious, report it
You can report the firm or scam by contacting the FCA Consumer Helpline on 0800 111 6768 or using the reporting form. If you’ve given your bank account details to a firm you think may be operating a scam, tell your bank immediately. If you've agreed to transfer your pension and now suspect a scam, contact your pension provider straight away. They may be able to stop a transfer that hasn't taken place yet.
The FCA ScamSmart website is very good and we would urge you to take a moment to read through some of the content. We also ask that you forward this link to friends and family members, just in case they are targeted. Sadly, these scams are happening more and more, often due to people being unaware of how clever these scammers can be. We urge you to be vigilant and if you have any concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us at County Financial.
If you would like to print this article or download it to your computer as a PDF please click on the image here.