Getting rid of pension scammers is a subject I feel really passionate about and why I felt I had to offer people guidance on how to check a pension scam.
It really saddens me to hear stories of people like you who have worked hard all their life and saved for their retirement only to have their savings taken away from them by fraudsters. Apparently there has been £5 million lost to pension scams during the first 5 months of 2017.
That’s why I was pleased to hear that the government plans to implement a ban on cold calls when it comes to firms contacting people about their pensions.
How does a pension scam operate
Pension scammers will usually purchase your details from databases that are available all over the internet. Every time you open an online account with any goods or services provider you are potentially exposing your details to fraudsters. You probably know this already and by ticking the ‘don’t pass on my contact details’ box on sign up this should stop this if the firm is acting appropriately.
The fraudsters operating pension scams will usually contact you via a range of methods:
- Cold calls – slick sales people who are very good at convincing you they are genuine.
- Texts and emails – offering you deals that are too good to be true.
- Press adverts – Usually in the local press and again offering a deal too good to be true.
- Websites – Fraudsters will spend a fortune on Google ads that attract you to their websites.
Once the fraudsters have your attention they will make a number of promises to you such as:
- Giving you access to your entire pension fund in one lump sum.
- An ‘amazing’ investment opportunity, usually in a foreign country.
- A mixture of the two.
In order to encourage you to proceed with their proposals the fraudsters will employ the following tactics:
- Emotional manipulation.
- Time limit.
- No risk.
Once you have ‘signed up’ to the deal your pension will either be transferred overseas and then it becomes untraceable or the fraudsters will pay out your pension to you after deducting a huge fee. As there are rules on accessing your pension you will then most likely incur a huge tax bill.
If you feel ever feel uncomfortable discussing your pension with a stranger, stop. Your gut is probably telling you something is not quite right and it could be a pension scam.
What to do if you suspect a pension scam
- Never provide ANY personal information.
- Ask the caller for their Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) number, company name, address, website and ask for information to be sent through to you by post.
- Hang up.
- Check to see if the firm is authorised by the FCA and on the FCA register.
- Check the FCA’s ScamSmart website to see if it’s a scheme that is on the FCA’s warning list.
If you think you have already been the victim of a pension scam, act immediately and call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 to report it.
As a firm we are proud to have joined the fight against the scammers by uniting with the Personal Finance Society to seek and spot pension scams. We set aside time each month to do this and would be happy to help pass on information to the relevant authorities if you feel you have been contacted by fraudsters operating a pension scam.