Pension scams are on the rise, with at least £2,241,774 reportedly lost to pension scammers in the 5 months between January and May 2021, the problem is getting bigger.
Scammers try to persuade you to transfer your pension savings, or to release funds from it, by making attractive-sounding false promises that whilst sounding appealing have no substance. The money is often invested in unusual, high-risk investments such as overseas property, hotels, renewable energy bonds, forestry, parking and even storage units.
How do you spot a scam – what are the tell-tale signs?
• A call from the blue is a big tell – regulated pension advisers are NOT allowed to cold call, so if you get a call then it cannot be legitimate
• phrases like ‘free pension review’, ‘pension liberation’, ‘loan’, ‘loophole’, ‘savings advance’, ‘one-off investment’, ‘cashback’
• if they offer guarantees that they can get better returns on pension savings
• any offer of access to your pension before age 55
• if there are pressures to act or time limited offers to get the ‘best deal’
• unusual high-risk investments such as those noted above, which tend to be overseas, unregulated and come with no consumer protection
• complicated investment structures with little explanation
• fake email addresses and websites that do not link to established providers
What to do if you notice a scam?
The first step is to check the Financial Services Register (https://register.fca.org.uk) to ensure that anyone offering you advice or financial services is FCA-authorised. Without this authorisation you will not have access to the Financial Ombudsman Service or the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, so you are unlikely to get your money back if things go wrong.
You should also check the ScamSmart website (https://www.fca.org.uk/scamsmart) and ensure that you are comfortable, well informed and have double checked all details.
Always take your time to make all the checks you need – even if this means turning down an ‘amazing deal’. Never rush into anything and always check that what you are getting is legitimate, protected and importantly is right for you.
Finally, get impartial advice from experts in the field, such as ourselves. We can assist you and ensure that everything is as it should be.
Remember, if it is a pension that we have set up and you are contacted out of the blue about your pension, the chances are that it is high risk or a scam, so please check with us before actioning anything!