The Financial Conduct Authority has issued a number of warnings about firms it said are providing financial services without authorisation.
RBS Bourse, Capital Trust Ventures, Andersen Consulting (UK) and Beckett & Cromwell have been named by the FCA, in separate warnings, as unauthorised firms that have been targeting people in the UK.
In its warnings, the FCA provided contact details for each of the firms and stated almost all companies and individuals offering, promoting or selling financial services or products in the UK have to be authorised by the regulator.
It added some firms act without authorisation and some knowingly run scams like share fraud.
According to the FCA, share scams are often run from ‘boiler rooms’ where fraudsters cold-call investors offering them worthless, overpriced or even non-existent shares.
These scams promise high returns, but those who invest usually end up losing their money.
The FCA advises individuals to only deal with firms authorised by them, and to check with the Financial Services Register, which has information on firms and individuals that are currently regulated by them or have been in the past.
In its warnings, it added consumers should be aware that if they give money to unauthorised firms, they will not be covered by the Financial Ombudsman Service or Financial Services Compensation Scheme.
The FCA also provides ways to report unauthorised firms on its warnings.
During 2016, pension scams in particular have been a priority for the regulator.
In 2015, the watchdog launched Scamsmart, a campaign aimed at preventing crime on those at or approaching retirement. The flexibility made possible by recent changes to pensions, although welcomed by consumers, has given fresh impetus to scammers looking to operate in this area.
A new phase of Scamsmart is running across 2016/17, including an interactive tool called the ‘Warning List’ to help people avoid potential scams.