Are you on the FSA's sucker list?
The Financial Services Authority (FSA) says that they've found the biggest ever list of "suckers". No, it ain't the mailing list for Razorlight, but rather, a list of potential targets for share fraudsters.
The FSA are writing to nearly 40,000 people whose names, addresses and telephone numbers appear on the list. It could be you!
Apparently, the people on the list are going to get a warning that their details are being passed around and that they could well be contacted by some hoodwinkers. This info is bought and sold by "boiler rooms", teams of bogus dealers who try to sell worthless shares.
"The greatest concentrations of targets are based largely in London and the South East, but there are significant numbers present in Yorkshire and Lancashire too," say the FSA to the Beeb.
The FSA says that UK investors lose hundreds of millions of pounds a year to boiler rooms, with the average loss per investor sitting at around £20,000. "We had several hundred callers last year saying they were victims of boiler room scams," said Jonathan Phelan of the FSA. "A proper FSA authorised firm should not be cold-calling you - you should not get a call out of the blue. The advice is hang up on them," Mr Phelan added.
In a vaguely exciting turn, the FSA's mass mailout is being called "Operation Domingo", which will seek to give advice to those who have been duped. If you suspect you've been had, or indeed, merely been contacted by a boiler room, then you can ring the FSA helpline on 0845 606 1234 or check for more information on the FSA's website.
Things to look out for are someone calling to offer you shares out of the blue. If they keep ringing you, keep hanging up on them (or maybe talk to them in confusing, babbling nonsensespeak until they give up on you). If you're really vigilant, you can check the FSA register to see if the person selling shares is authorised to do so. If you're suss, report any company that cold calls you to the FSA or the police.