fca-scam-smart (image for article)

If you are contacted by someone offering an investment out of the blue, it is likely to be a scam. So put down the phone and delete that email straightaway!

Recent pension freedoms and low interest rates offering poor returns on savings are making those over 55 an increasingly attractive target for fraudsters.


The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is therefore urging over 55s to take their time to check that investment ‘opportunities’ are legitimate before they hand over their money.

This comes as its new research reveals that:

  • A fifth (22%) of over 55s and a third (32%) of over 75s believe they have been targeted by an investment scam in the last 3 years.
  • Over half (55%) of those who have invested in financial products did so on their own, rather than making the decision with family. (Fraudsters will often encourage their targets to keep the investment a secret to avoid friends and family dissuading them from investing.)
  • One in eight (14%) of over 55s spend little or no time researching financial investment products before handing over money, rising to a quarter (26%) of over 75s.
  • Only 27% sought professional, impartial advice – a check the FCA encourages consumers to do before investing.
  • On average, victims of investment fraud lost £32,000 each last year (source: Action Fraud).

The new research is part of the FCA’s ScamSmart campaign, helping to protect consumers from investment fraud. The campaign features an interactive tool, the FCA Warning List, that helps investors find out more about the risks associated with an investment, and check a list of firms the FCA knows are operating without its authorisation.

To avoid being a victim of investment fraud, the FCA advises consumers to:

  1. Reject unsolicited contact about investments.
  2. Before investing, check the FCA Register to see if the firm or individual you are dealing with is authorised and check the FCA Warning List of firms to avoid.
  3. Get impartial advice before investing.

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. The total sample size was 1,004 GB adults aged 55+, in social grade ABC1, with a gross household income of £30,000+ and/ or savings of £5,000+. Fieldwork was undertaken between 3rd – 11th November 2016. The survey was carried out online.