Avoid the Pension Scammers – don’t be fooled

Guy Opperman, Minister for Pensions and Financial Inclusion said:

“Pensions are one of the largest and most important investments we’ll ever make, and robbing someone of their retirement is nothing short of despicable.”

“We know we can beat these callous crooks, because getting the message out there does work. Last year’s pension scams awareness campaign prevented hundreds of people from losing as much as £34 million, and I’m backing this year’s effort to be bigger and better as we build a generation of savvy savers.”

Scammers try to persuade pension savers to transfer their entire pension savings, or to release funds from it, by making attractive-sounding promises they have no intention of keeping.

Research suggests that 42% of pension savers, over five million people, could be at risk of falling for one of six common tactics used by pension scammers. Those who consider themselves smart or financially savvy are as likely to be persuaded as anyone else.

23% of all those surveyed said they’d talk with a cold-caller that wanted to discuss their pension plans, despite the government’s ban on pension cold-calls this January. Nearly a quarter said they would ask for website details, request further information or find out what they’re offering, even if the call came out of the blue.

Victims of pension fraud reported in 2018 that they had lost an average of £82,000. Pension fraud can be devastating, as victims can lose their life savings and be left facing retirement with limited income. Last year’s ScamSmart campaign resulted in more than 3,705 people being warned about unauthorised firms. This year’s campaign is currently running on TV, radio and online.

So what types of scams are people convinced by?

  1. Exotic investments 23% of 45 to 65-year-old pension savers would pursue an offer of high returns in: overseas properties; renewable energy bonds; forestry; storage units; or biofuels – even though they are high-risk and unsuitable for pension savings.
  2. Cold calling – 23% would engage from a company asking to discuss their pension.
  3. Early access – 17% are interested in a company that offered early access.
  4. Guaranteed high returns – 13% would pursue an offer guaranteeing returns of 11%.
  5. Free pension review – 10% would say yes to a free pension review from a company they’d never dealt with before.
  6. Time-limited offers – 7% would say yes to a special deal that won’t be around for long and offered to send a courier to sign the paperwork immediately.

Recommendations to avoid the scammers

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and The Pensions Regulator (TPR) recommend:

  1. Reject unexpected pension offers whether made online, on social media or over the phone.
  2. Check who you’re dealing with – check the FCA Register or call the FCA contact centre on 0800 111 6768 to see if the firm you are dealing with is authorised by the FCA.
  3. Don’t be rushed or pressured.
  4. Get impartial information and advice.

You can test how ScamSmart you are by taking a new quiz ScamSmart.

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