Money Advice Trust > Media centre > News > Debt charity raises alarm on impersonator firms following FCA warnings

Debt charity raises alarm on impersonator firms following FCA warnings

16 June 2020


The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has issued warnings about two unauthorised firms that appear to impersonate the free, charity-run debt advice service National Debtline. The firms use the names ‘National-Debt-Helpline’ and ‘National Debtlines’ online.

These warnings are part of a wider problem of commercial firms masquerading to be legitimate debt advice charities. In 2019, the FCA issued similar warnings about ‘clone firms’ impersonating both National Debtline and StepChange Debt Charity.

The Money Advice Trust, the charity that runs National Debtline, is worried that firms not authorised by the FCA may provide inaccurate and unsuitable advice for people seeking debt advice.

At the start of Citizens Advice’s ‘Scams awareness fortnight’, the charity is urging anyone seeking debt advice to follow the FCA’s advice on protecting yourself from scams. If anyone is searching online, this includes checking they are clicking on the correct website links.

The correct web address for National Debtline is www.nationaldebtline.org

The Money Advice Trust is working with the Money and Pensions Service and other debt advice charities to urge regulators to take further action.

Joanna Elson OBE, chief executive of the Money Advice Trust, the charity that runs National Debtline and Business Debtline, said: 

“We are pleased the FCA has issued these warnings, which follow on from changes implemented by Google last year on how companies are allowed to advertise.

“However, the issue of unauthorised firms impersonating genuine debt advice charities is not going to go away – and warnings for consumers are not enough.

“The government needs to give the FCA the power to regulate the wider activity of these ‘lead generator’ companies – to stop these copycat sites leading people into receiving the wrong advice and making it harder to deal with their situation

“At a time when millions of households have been financially impacted by Covid-19, it is more important than ever that people are able to access the free, impartial debt advice they need as soon as possible. Impersonator websites like these make that far more difficult.

“If you are searching for debt advice online, check the details of any links you are clicking on to make sure they are those of a genuine debt advice charity. You can check if any company is a registered charity on the Charity Commission website”

National Debtline offers free debt advice at www.nationaldebtline.org.


Further information how to make sure it is National Debtline is available at: www.nationaldebtline.org/Pages/making-sure-its-us.aspx  

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