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Investment and pension scammers most active in East of England, finance survey finds

PUBLISHED: 09:05 20 June 2018 | UPDATED: 09:12 20 June 2018

People in the East of England are more likely to have received an unsolicited approach for what could be a pension or investment scam than residents in any other part of the UK. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto.

People in the East of England are more likely to have received an unsolicited approach for what could be a pension or investment scam than residents in any other part of the UK. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto.

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People in the East of England are more likely to have experienced an unsolicited approach for a possible pension or investment scam than anywhere else in the UK.

A large-scale consumer survey by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) found 28% of people in the region received an unwanted advance of this nature in the past year, above the UK average of 23%.

The watchdog’s financial lives survey also revealed that people living in the countryside are less likely to be overdrawn or unable to clear their credit card balance each month – but are likely to have a tougher time getting access to banking services.

The FCA found 13% of adults aged 55 and over in rural areas, or those who are younger and have a long-term health condition, have difficulty getting to a bank. This compares with a figure of 9% in urban areas.

Compounding this problem, take-up of mobile banking in rural areas (23%) is nearly half that in urban areas (45%).

The survey of nearly 13,000 people found that, of those who never use the internet, 70% live in rural areas.

Urban residents tend to have bigger non-mortgage debts, and are more likely to use high-cost loans – 7% of adults have taken one out compared with 5% of adults in rural areas.

Adults’ average unsecured (non-mortgage) debt is £3,600 in urban areas, compared with £2,510 in rural locations.

The survey also found that more adults in urban (27%) than rural (20%) areas have been overdrawn in the last 12 months, while 20% in urban areas have a credit card and do not pay off the balance every or most months compared with 14% in the rural areas.

Over a quarter (27%) of adults living in the countryside are highly satisfied with their financial circumstances overall, compared with 20% of adults living in towns and cities.

Andrew Bailey, FCA chief executive, said: “This survey shows just how different the experience of financial services is for consumers across the country.

“That’s important for us, as we shape financial services policy. But it is also important for firms, as they decide how best to serve their customers.”

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