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Regulator warning about MSE clone firm

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Written by: Emma Lunn
15/04/2021
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has issued a warning about scammers trying to impersonate MoneySavingExpert.com.

The regulator identified a ‘clone firm’ using the details of the money saving website.

The copycat firm sent emails claiming to be from MoneySavingExpert.com and founder Martin Lewis offering savings accounts with eye-catching rates.

The emails were sent from moneysavingexpert@consultant.com and Martinlewis@publicist.com – but these addresses have nothing to do with the real MoneySavingExpert.com website.

Almost all firms and individuals carrying out financial services activities in the UK have to be authorised or registered by the FCA.

A ‘clone firm’ is the technical term the FCA uses for a company which isn’t authorised by the regulator but contacts people claiming to be from an authorised firm. Fraudsters often use the details of firms the FCA authorises to try to convince people that they work for a genuine, authorised firm.

Clone firms often contact people out of the blue, so you should be especially wary if you have been cold called. They may use the name of the genuine firm, and the ‘firm reference number’ (FRN) the FCA has given the authorised firm or other details.

Scammers often change contact details over time to new email addresses, telephone numbers or physical addresses.

How to protect yourself from clone firms

The FCA advises consumers to only deal with financial firms that are authorised by the FCA, and to check the Financial Services Register to ensure they are. It has information on firms and individuals that are, or have been, regulated by the FCA.

If a firm does not appear on the register but claims it does, you can contact the FCA consumer helpline on 0800 111 6768.

If you use an unauthorised firm, you won’t have access to the Financial Ombudsman Service or Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) so you’re unlikely to get your money back if things go wrong.

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