The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) has said it is aware of scammers who have been using its name when contacting consumers.

The criminals claim to work for the FOS, and usually claim that they can recover money for the individual from a financial firm. The scammers may claim they need the individual’s bank details so they can take payment of a processing fee, or may request other personal details. Of course, the criminals do not represent the FOS, there is no sum due to the individual, and the scammers are simply intending to use the person’s bank details or other personal information for their own ends.

The FOS highlights a number of warning signs people should be aware of, which include:

  • The FOS never makes unsolicited contact with consumers – it would only call someone if they had previously been in contact with the Service to make a complaint
  • The FOS is a free service so would never need the bank account details of any individual
  • The FOS does not pay compensation directly to consumers – if it decides that redress is due, then it instructs the firm who were at fault to make this payment

The fraudsters can also manipulate the caller ID on recipients’ phones, so that it might appear that the call has come from the FOS. Hence the Service is also warning people that just because it might be their phone number on the caller display, this does not necessarily mean that the call is genuine. The FOS invites people who are unsure as to whether a call is genuine to call them back on their main freephone number.

Financial advisers and other staff working within the industry could have an important role to play in educating clients and other consumers to the existence of this ‘FOS scam’, and to the other scams and swindles being carried out by people claiming to represent financial institutions.

Previously, the FOS has warned about a similar scam involving emails that appeared to come from the Service. There have also been reports of callers inviting people to log on to a website, which is carefully disguised to look like the genuine FOS website, but is in fact designed to steal individuals’ personal data when they enter their information.

The information shown in this article was correct at the time of publication. Articles are not routinely reviewed and as such are not updated. Please be aware the facts, circumstances or legal position may change after publication of the article