When you woke up today, did you think you might get scammed?
We have all been ‘conned’ at some point in our lives, and hopefully most of us have only had those minor situations – the old style £1 coin in our change, the bargain offer that was cheaper elsewhere, the baby-sitting that started at “only 20 minutes” and turned into hours…
Mostly, these are inconveniences, which could result in a mild annoyance at your trusting nature – so would you know a genuine pension scam if it was presented directly to you?
Tactics around pension scams include:
- contact out of the blue
- attractive offers and promises of high/guaranteed returns
- free pension reviews
- offering access to your pension before age 55
- pressure to act quickly to avoid missing out
While we all believe we could spot a scam, scammers can be articulate and financially knowledgeable, with credible websites, testimonials and materials that are hard to distinguish from the real thing. And, once they have your pension funds, they are often invested in unusual and high-risk investments like overseas property, renewable energy bonds, forestry and storage units, or simply stolen outright.
So, what can you do to try and prevent your pension from being scammed?
Be wary of free pension review offers. If you’re contacted out of the blue about your pension from a company you have not dealt with before, chances are it is a scam.
Be wary and take your time – even if this means turning down an “amazing” deal.
Get impartial information and advice (see also ‘useful contacts’, right):
- The Pensions Advisory Service provides free independent and impartial information and guidance.
- If you’re over 50 and have a defined contribution pension, Pension Wise offers pre-booked appointments to talk through your retirement options.
- Financial advisers can help you make the best decision for your circumstances – just make sure they belong to a Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)-authorised firm.
You can check the FCA’s Financial Services Register (https://register.fca.org.uk) to make sure anyone offering you advice or other financial services is authorised by the FCA. This also gives you links to the Financial Ombudsman Service or the Financial Services Compensation Scheme. If the firm is on the FCA Register, you can also call the FCA consumer helpline to check the firm is permitted to give pension advice.
Beware of fraudsters pretending to be from a firm authorised by the FCA, this could be a so-called ‘clone firm’. Use the contact details provided on the FCA Register, not the details they give you.
We urge anyone who is contacted about their pension to visit the FCA’s ScamSmart website – www.fca.org.uk/scamsmart – and if you are concerned and suspect a scam:
- report it to the FCA by contacting their consumer helpline on 0800 111 6768 or using the reporting form at www.fca.org.uk/scamsmart
- report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or at www.actionfraud.police.uk
If you’re in the middle of a transfer and have concerns, contact your provider immediately and then get in touch with The Pensions Advisory Service (see ‘useful contacts’, below).
Don’t end up becoming the prey of a scammer – together we will work together to ensure your pension pot is there for your future – not the scammer’s.
The Pensions Advisory Service
Provides free independent and impartial information and guidance.
If you’re over 50 and have a defined contribution pension, Pension Wise
offers pre-booked appointments to talk through your retirement options.
The Pensions Regulator
Contains the latest content and news on pensions.
Financial Conduct Authority
The regulator of the financial services industry. You can check the FCA
register for authorised firms, read the latest guidance notes and learn
about the measures taken to protect consumers such as yourself.
Department of Work and Pensions
Where you can check your state pension and state pension age.
Money Advice Service
A service set up by the Government to offer free and independent help
on everything from pensions to pet insurance.
In times of distress or hardship, Samaritans are there to listen. The phone number 116 123 is free to call 24/7.
Lost Pension Tracking Service
Use this service to find contact details for your own workplace or personal pension scheme, or someone else’s scheme if you have their permission.