Alarm bells have been sounded as the number of scam warnings issued by the Financial Conduct Authority have surpassed 1,000 this year.
The number of warnings, which are published on the regulator’s website, peaked in the final week of September when the City watchdog listed 43 scams, clones and unauthorised firms in just seven days.
According to data collated by consultancy the Lang Cat, the FCA has issued 1003 warnings in the 43 weeks to the end of October.
It comes amid increasing concern over the prevalence of scams and fraudulent activity as criminals seek to take advantage of the financial and social confusion created by the coronavirus crisis.
Mike Barrett, consulting director at the Lang Cat, warned relying on the regulators alone was not enough in the battle against scams.
He said: “I think this is the most important issue facing our sector, and everyone – advisers, providers, the media – need to play their part to solve it.
“With over 1000 warnings year to date, it’s clear that the problem is out of control, and the FCA simply can’t cope with the scale, not least since many of these warnings are directed against firms who sit outside their regulatory perimeter.
“Somehow we’ve got to address this issue, especially as more and more people are likely to become financially vulnerable over the coming months.”
A Freedom of Information request published in the summer revealed the number of clone firm warnings issued by the FCA had jumped 110 per cent in the past five years.
The watchdog regularly posts warnings about scam and clone companies on its website, some of which have attempted to impersonate advice firms and other household names by using a slight variant of company details.
A recent survey of 12,000 UK adults by Interactive Investor found 13 per cent of respondents admitted to having been scammed, rising to 18 per cent in the 72-77 age category and 20 per cent among those aged over 77.