A recent FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) release warned consumers about the dangers of so-called ‘cloned companies’. Here is what this means and how to protect yourself against becoming a victim of such fraudsters.
What are ‘Cloned Companies’?
All companies selling, promoting or advising on share sales and other investments within the UK must be authorised by the FCA to do so. Some fraudsters have now taken to using existing, authorised companies’ names, FRNs (firm registration numbers) and addresses in order to scam consumers out of their hard-earned cash. This includes other firms pretending to be loan companies or payday lenders in an attempt to take your details and use them for commercial gain.
Often claiming that a company’s contact details on the FCA register are incorrect and occasionally even trying to change said details on the register itself in order to appear genuine, these scammers will then provide potential victims with their own address, phone number and/or Website details. In some instances, companies’ Websites have been copied, with fake versions showing only subtle changes in terms of phone numbers and/or e-mail addresses.
This whole process is known as company cloning. Consumers should note that if they have given money to an unauthorised or cloned company, they will not be able to involve the FOS (Financial Ombudsman Service) or the FSCS (Financial Services Compensation Scheme) in case things go wrong.
How to Protect Yourself
The FCA strongly advises consumers to deal exclusively with financial services companies that are authorised by the FCA and to check the FCA register to ensure they really are.
The identity of authorised companies can be verified by asking for the company’s contact details and FRN and calling the company back on the number provided on the FCA register (this is particularly important when responding to ‘cold calls’). If the register does not provide contact details or the company claims the details provided on the register are out of date, consumers should contact the FCA’s Consumer Helpline on Tel.: 0800 111 6768.
The FCA register should always be accessed via www.fca.org.uk, as opposed to links provided on potentially fake Websites or in e-mails.
Additional checks to confirm a company is genuine include checking contact details with directory enquiries; Companies House and/or the company’s official Website. More detailed information concerning cloned companies; advice on protecting yourself and what to do if you have been scammed is available on the FCA’s Website.
Making sure you are talking to Uncle Buck
If you are expecting a call from us or if you have recently submitted an application or been approved for a loan from Uncle Buck, you may wish to verify the identity of the caller by checking our company details against the FCA register and calling us back on the number provided there. It will only take a moment and will help us to protect you against the risk of potentially serious financial losses.
If you receive an “unsolicited call” or e-mail from someone claiming to represent us, follow the steps above on “How to protect yourself”. Uncle Buck do not charge any upfront fees ever. We ask for your debit card details during the application process for identity verification checking purposes so you will never be asked to pay any upfront fee on our websites or by one of our agents. If you believe that some facts are still not adding up, it is possible that this is a scam and you should report the incident to the FCA via their Consumer Helpline, Tel:0800 111 6768 or by using their Investment Scam or Share Fraud forms.