Financial Conduct Authority  

FCA cracks down on 4,000 rogue financial promotions

FCA cracks down on 4,000 rogue financial promotions

The Financial Conduct Authority amended or withdrew 4,151 financial promotions between July and September, the highest level since it started publishing the data.

In its data for the third quarter of the year ending September 30, the FCA said it reviewed 340 promotions.

The FCA said it had seen several cases involving unauthorised firms and individuals seeking to take advantage of the rising cost of living. 

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During the period, the FCA issued 303 warnings about unauthorised firms and individuals, with over 20 per cent being about clone scams. 

Mark Steward, executive director of enforcement and market oversight at the FCA, said: “As consumers feel the financial squeeze, they could be tempted by high risk, unregulated products and services or they could become a target for scammers preying on moments of vulnerability. 

“As a result, we’re doing even more to tackle false claims in adverts, issue prompt warnings to consumers, and we continue to engage with the largest tech and social media platforms as they also play an important part in protecting consumers from online harm. 

“This is why changes to the online safety bill to cover paid-for financial services advertising online are very much needed right now.”

The data detailed various action taken by the City watchdog to curb misleading and unfair behaviour by firms as well as tackling scammers. 

It said the FCA’s intervention resulted in 66 Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) promotions from one firm across various social media platforms being amended or withdrawn. 

The FCA said the adverts did not give fair or prominent risk warnings and were misleading about fees. 

Although the FCA does not yet regulate BNPL, it warned BNPL firms about misleading promotions earlier this year. 

Investments and lending remain highest 

Retail lending, investments and banking were the sectors with the highest rate of amends or withdrawal of adverts and amount to 95 per cent of the FCA's interventions with authorised firms.

The data found that retail lending amounted to 46 per cent of interventions while retail investments was 24 per cent. 

Retail banking also accounted for 24 per cent while pensions and retirement income was 6 per cent. 

These were down from Q2 when lending was 59 per cent and investments was 25 per cent.

The regulator said many of these involved breaches of the financial promotion restriction online.

Over the last quarter, the FCA said it has seen a number of cases involving unauthorised firms and individuals seeking to take advantage of the rising cost of living. 

It said as consumers become financially squeezed, they are likely to be targeted by fraudsters and scams and also more likely to engage with high-risk and unregulated products such as crypto assets. 

“We are aware that scammers are targeting consumers searching for investments online, in particular through search engines such as Google and social media such as Facebook, Instagram or YouTube,” it wrote.

“This means consumers often need help to understand which products and services are not necessarily authorised or regulated by us.”