Imagine this scenario …. You have saved most of your working life to put money into a pension, to provide you with security for your retirement, only for some smooth-talking salesperson, or a non-qualified pensions “expert” to scam you out of your life savings. Often this can start with an un-solicited phone call…
Unfortunately, this has been a hard reality for many people in the UK, and whilst pension scams have been around for some time, since the introduction of Pension Freedoms there has been an increase in the number of people over 55 being targeted by fraudsters. Indeed, according to Action Fraud and figures published by the regulator, the average value of a single pension scam in 2017 was around £90,000, with some individual cases being reported that reached seven figures.
So, what can you do to protect yourself? Well, it might be useful to familiarise yourself with the few simple steps below, which although not an exhaustive list is a basic starting point:
Be alert to:
Anyone saying you can access your pension before you reach 55.
Unsolicited phone calls / emails / marketing leaflets and cold calls.
Promises of huge returns / no risk / overseas property investments etc.
Free Pension Reviews (IFA’s will charge for advice so be very wary of anyone / any firm claiming to offer free advice).
Simple steps to protect yourself:
Read the information contained on the FCA website – ScamSmart. There is a wealth of information here with information on how to check if a firm or individual is on the FCA warning list, and a simple checklist if you have been offered a pensions or investment opportunity. You can access ScamSmart here
Remember, if you feel you need professional advice to manage or review your pension options, then please read my article here to give you an overview of the options available to you. Take advantage of the free resources, do your research, and if you decide to appoint a Financial Adviser my personal view would be to ensure they are an Independent Financial Adviser (IFA). You can check their credentials directly with the FCA using the public register available here.
And always remember the old saying “If it sounds too good to be true – it probably is”.
Until the next time