The regulator said at the time the festive jingle was designed as a “lighthearted, engaging way to spread awareness” of rising levels of loan fee fraud in the run-up to Christmas, after instances of the scam shot up by almost a third. The scam occurs when victims are promised access to loans regardless of their credit score and asked to pay an arrangement fee before the money is transferred. The scammers then cut off communication once the fees are paid.
The short recording, posted on social media and played on Radio 4 and LBC, came with a tongue-in-cheek warning which read: “Caution: May Stay in Your Head for Days”.
However, more than six months after it was first released, the jingle has been listened to by fewer than 4,300 people on Youtube.
The FCA is funded by fees charged to the financial firms it regulates. While it is not paid for by the taxpayer, it is a public body and accountable to both HM Treasury and Parliament.
It has previously come under fire for how it allocates its resources. In May it faced criticism for spending millions on its “ScamSmart” campaign, an anti-fraud section on its website, which attracted fewer than 4,500 views from consumers every month.
It is understood a large proportion of the money spent on its Christmas fraud jingle went to an outsourced PR firm with musical and studio production costs making up just a fraction of the overall spend.
The FCA has spent close to quarter of a million pounds on “public relations support” over the past five years, on top of its normal spending on its own existing media team, the FOI revealed. The watchdog defended its actions, saying it was “pleased with the reaction to the jingle”.
A spokesman said: “Loan fee fraud hits the most vulnerable in society. With the cost of living increasing, we’re concerned more people will be hit by this type of fraud. We are always looking for new ways to engage with the public to warn them of the risk of scams… and will continue to raise awareness of the dangers that loan fee fraud scams can pose to consumers.”