In Brief

Pension scams: how to spot a con

Regulators warn that pension fraud victims lost more than £23m last year

Victims of pension scams are being cheated out of an average of £91,000 each, according to newly published figures.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and The Pensions Regulator (TPR) say that a total of more than £23m was stolen from pension funds in 2017, and have warned pension holders to “be on their guard” for potential fraudsters.

The two regulators have launched a joint TV advertising campaign to raise awareness, warning that victims of pension fraud can lose their life savings, The Guardian reports.

Nicola Parish, TPR’s executive director of frontline regulation, said: “If someone cold calls you about your pension, it’s probably an attempt to steal your savings. Our message is clear - hang up and report it.”

Welcoming the new campaign, Guy Opperman, minister for pensions and financial inclusion, said: “Pension scams are devastating for hardworking people and can rob them of the retirement they planned.

“I would urge savers to always exercise caution and seek independent guidance or advice before making important financial decisions.”

The Money Advice Service (MAS) has compiled a list of the most common pension scams. 

Experts say that unsolicited approaches by phone call, text message, email or in person are a “tell-tale” sign of a con, especially if the firm contacting you doesn’t allow you to call them back.

The MAS also notes that caution should be exercised if the person or company only provides a mobile phone number or a PO box address in their contact details.

And any claims of “tax loopholes”, “extra tax savings” or supposedly low-risk deals that “offer high rates of return on your investment” should be treated with suspicion.

Another common scam involves fraudsters “claiming to be able to unlock money from an individual’s pension, which is normally only possible from age 55”, reports Sky News

The Government’s Pension Wise website says that if you suspect a scammer is contacting you, you should check if that person or company is on the Financial Services Register or call the Financial Conduct Authority on 0800 111 6768. 

If you believe you’ve been the victim of a pension scam or may be an intended target, the site recommends contacting Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or using their online reporting tool.

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