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There are warning signs to help you identify – and avoid – investment scams. Some steps to follow include:

Step 1: We strongly advise you only deal with financial services firms that are authorized by us, and check our Register to ensure they are licensed. Please note; certified financial institutions are unlikely to contact you out of the blue with an offer to buy or sell shares.

Step 2: To verify the identity of a certified financial institution ask for their 'Company Registration Number' (CRN) and contact details. If there are no contact details on our Register or the firm claims they are out of date, contact us here:

Step 3: As fraudsters are constantly adapting their tactics, you should make extra checks to confirm you are dealing with the financial services firm in question and have the correct contact details – especially if you have been cold-called. This might include checking the details on the firm's website, with directory enquiries or Companies House.

Step 4: If you buy shares or other investments from an unauthorised firm, you will not have access to the Financial Ombudsman Service or Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) if things go wrong.

Step 5: This is especially important as most boiler room scams are based overseas, such as in Spain, Switzerland and the USA, and not authorised by us. Even if the firm uses a UK freepost address on the return envelopes, it may be a forwarding address to an overseas address.

But while bogus companies usually ask investors to transfer money overseas, we are seeing more boiler rooms ask victims to transfer money to UK-based bank accounts.

Step 6: Search for unauthorised UK firms and individuals to avoid doing business with them, although their names are likely to change on a regular basis.

Step 7: Check for lists of unauthorised overseas firms that have received complaints and/or have had warnings issued by foreign regulatory authorities about firms conducting unauthorised business.

Step 8: If you do decide to buy the shares being offered check the current price (in the financial media or with a broker) as the firms may be buying shares from other brokers and offering them above the market price.

Also do your own research before buying – look at the company's website and annual report, and read the financial press.

Step 9: Contact our Helpline or use our boiler room reporting form if you have been approached or think you are a victim of a share scam.

You should also report suspected boiler room fraud to the police. If you have sent money to a UK or overseas bank account, or by another type of money transfer, contact us here:

Step 10: Find out more steps you should take to protect yourself from more investment scams.