A number of companies, including ITV plc, have become aware that their shareholders have received unsolicited phone calls or correspondence concerning investment matters which may imply a connection to the company concerned.
These are typically from overseas based “brokers” who target UK shareholders offering to buy their shares or sell them (what can turn out to be) worthless or high risk shares in UK or US investments. They can be very persistent and extremely persuasive. A 2006 survey by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) has reported that the average amount lost by investors is around £20,000. It is not just the novice investor who has been duped in this way, many of the victims had been successfully investing for several years.
Shareholders are advised to be wary of any unsolicited advice, offers to buy shares at a discount or offers of free reports into the Company. If you are contacted in this manner you should consider the following:
- Make sure you obtain the correct name of the person and organisation and where they are based.
- You should also check that they are properly authorised by the FSA before getting involved. You can check at http://www.fsa.gov.uk/pages/register/. If you choose to call the organisation back, use their details in the FSA register to verify their authenticity.
- If the calls persist, hang up.
- If you deal with an unauthorised firm, you will not be eligible to receive any payment under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.
The FSA also maintains on its website a list of unauthorised overseas firms who are targeting, or have targeted, UK investors. You may wish to report the matter to the FSA either by calling 0845 606 1234 or visiting http://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/yourmoney/, so that this list can be kept up-to-date and any other appropriate action can be considered.
The FSA can be contacted by completing an online form at http://www.fsa.gov.uk/pages/Doing/Regulated/Law/Alerts/overseas.shtml