City watchdog

The City watchdog, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), regulates the financial services industry in the UK, supervising the conduct of more than 50,000 firms. Financial products and services can be offered in the UK only by firms and individuals who are authorised, registered or approved by the FCA, or are otherwise exempt.

But some people act without authorisation or registration, or without being exempt, and some run scams.

It’s worth checking the Financial Services Register to see whether firms you are dealing with, or thinking of dealing with, are authorised. The register is a very useful public record that shows details of firms, individuals and other bodies that are, or have been, regulated.

If the firm you are using is not on the register, and things go wrong, you will not have access to the Financial Ombudsman Service or the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). The Ombudsman deals with complaints against authorised firms that are still trading; the FSCS deals with complaints against authorised firms that are unable to pay claims against them (usually because they have ceased trading).

If a firm is not on the register, it may be a scam. Many scams entice customers by using deliberately similar names to existing, authorised firms or the name of a real firm but with different contact details.

There is a lot of useful information on the FCA website www.fca.org.uk.

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