Pension scammers are constantly on the lookout for new and sophisticated methods to trick people into handing over their hard-earned cash. With the average victim losing £91,000, a lifetime of savings could be gone in just minutes.
Regardless of how knowledgeable you are about your pension; anyone can fall victim to a pension scam, so it is important to arm yourself with the knowhow to spot a fraudster.
Being aware of the warning signs can protect you and your finances from ruin, these include:
- Cold calls, text messages or contact out of the blue with promises of quick cash, legal loopholes and pension loans
- Claims of accessing your pension before age 55
- Promises of high or guaranteed returns
- Free pension reviews
- Transfers of your money overseas
- Pressure to make quick decisions
Cold calling was banned in 2019, so this may be a less common tactic used nowadays with some scammers now making contact through online methods like social media. Others may offer free pension reviews.
Many of the investments that scammers offer are unusual, high-risk investments such as forestry and parking lots which might ring alarm bells, but some could sound more appealing such as renewable energy bonds and overseas property. Some scammers may even use the enticing tactic of offering savers early access to their pension through legitimate sounding deals. Regardless of the offer, all scams pose a threat.
Scammers can also be knowledgeable with credible testimonials and professional marketing materials, making it harder to identify as a scam.
These 5 steps could help you avoid becoming a victim of a pension scammer:
1. Never give your financial or personal information to a cold caller.
2. Find out about the company's background. Any Financial Advisers should be registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
3. Ask for a statement showing how your pension will be paid at retirement, and question who will look after your money until then.
4. Speak to an advisor who is not associated with the proposal you have received, for unbiased advice.
5. Never be rushed into a decision.
All pension savers should speak to an independent FCA-authorised adviser before making any transfers with their pension.
The FCA is the professional body which regulates firms and individuals that provide financial advice meaning it can provide details of authorised advisors. To find out more about pension fraud and what to do if you think you have been targeted visit the Pensions Regulator's website at https://www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk/en/pension-scams