Scam alert: beware of fraudsters claiming to be from the Financial Ombudsman Service

Scam alert: beware of fraudsters claiming to be from the Financial Ombudsman Service

Be wary of these dodgy emails and calls purporting to be from the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Anna Jordan

Rights, Scams and Politics

Anna Jordan
Updated on 16 March 2016

The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) has issued a warning about scammers who are attempting to steal financial details by contacting people and claiming to be from the body.

It says people hav ebeen contacted by email and phone and asked for their financial information.

The FOS says that it will never cold call or email anyone to ask for such details unless it was connected with an ongoing case, nor would it ever ask for money or pay out compensation directly.

If the ombudsman rules in the customer’s favour it’ll tell the defending business to pay out compensation, rather than the ombudsman itself paying out. Correspondence from the FOS telling you that it owes you money should be treated with caution.  

To check if it's a genuine call you can ring the ombudsman helpline on 0300 123 9 123.

The FOS said that it is not investigating any particular scammers, but is keeping track of the situation through its security team.

Trying to settle a dispute? Read How to complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Cybercrime is rife

Last year the police fraud and cybercrime reporting centre received 8,000 reports a month on average, with 96,699 people reporting that they had received a phishing scam.  

More than 68% said they’d received it in the form of an email, compared to just 12.5% of people who were contacted by phone. A slightly smaller 8.9% said they received text messages and the rest said that they were contacted in another way.

According to a report by Verizon, it takes scammers just 82 seconds to trap the average victim in a phishing scam and in most cases 23% of people will open a phishing email.

In December the most common phishing scammers claimed to be from a bank or from HMRC, followed by online payment merchants and utility companies.

Over the course of a month, 31% of all phishing scams reported to Action Fraud contained a potentially malicious hyperlink. If clicked, it could install malware onto the victim’s device or trick them into providing personal information.

Action Fraud reveals that phishing emails used specific subject headings to ensure recipients would open them. For phishing emails, the most common message title is ‘Attention’ followed by others such as ‘Your account has been revoked’, ‘Hello’ and ‘Important Notification’.

Users should be particularly wary of emails from, and

You can report any suspicious emails to Action Fraud.

Wrong number?

Keep an eye out for number spoofers too. Some scammers have the ability to intercept your caller ID to make it look like they’re calling from a legitimate organisation. This also goes for spoofing email addresses.

Contact the sender directly through a number or email address you trust to make sure that it’s them. Similarly, you should go directly to the website if there’s a link in an email that you don’t trust. But before you do, hover over the link with the mouse to see where it’ll really take you.

Of course, the same general advice applies to all scams. Don’t give out any personal information or open any emails unless you are absolutely sure of who the sender is. Companies won't send you unsolicited emails or phone you up to collect your personal or banking details.

Find out what to do if you fall victim to fraud at Identity theft: what to do if you’re a victim of ID fraud.

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