UK FCA Warns of Christmas Loan Fee Fraud Surge

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The UK’s financial regulator has warned UK households struggling with the high cost of living to be on the lookout for fraudsters promising quick and easy loans.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said that 40% of adults are concerned about being able to afford Christmas spending this year, rising to half of parents (52%) with children under the age of 18. It added that 47% and 64% respectively feel pressured to spend above their means at this time of the year.

This can force many to turn to loans. Over a quarter (29%) of British parents have borrowed money, or intend to, in the run up to Christmas, the FCA claimed. It said the amount borrowed has increased by over a third, from £305 in 2022 to £412 this year.

Scammers know this, leading to a surge in loan fee fraud – a type of scam where victims are promised loans they never receive, whilst being tricked into paying an upfront charge as a ‘deposit’ or ‘fee.’

Read more on loan fee fraud: Summer Spending Pressure Fuels Loan Fee Fraud Fears

Last year, the FCA claimed cases of loan fee fraud rose 21% year-on-year for the 12-month period November 2021–October 2022.

Such scams typically result in a loss of £255, it warned.

“Fraudsters will take advantage even of parents’ desire to give their children a good Christmas. Don’t let them,” urged FCA executive director of enforcement and market insight, Therese Chambers.

“Remember the three-step check and protect yourself and your loved ones from loan fee fraud. If you are cold called or emailed, it could be a scam. If you’re asked to pay an upfront fee, it could be a scam. And if you are asked to pay quickly or unusually, it could be a scam.”

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