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Pensions are valuable assets that can help shape our financial future. But, like anything valuable, our pensions can become the target for illegal activities, scams or offers of unrealistic and inappropriate investments. While the Government is taking steps to ban all private pensions cold calling, tighten HMRC rules to stop scammers from opening fraudulent pension schemes and prevent the transfer of money from occupational pension schemes into fraudulent ones, here are some precautions to keep up your sleeve.
Minister for Pensions, Richard Harrington says: "These criminals aim to catch you off your guard so they can steal your hard-earned pension savings. Scammers can wreck people's lives; it really is as plain as that. Taking sensible precautions and thinking twice can help stop these crooks in their tracks."
Often scammers will call out of the blue offering a 'free pension review'. No reputable organisation, including Government services such as Pension Wise, would ever do such a thing – the chances are they are simply laying the ground work to steal your money. If anyone cold calls or contacts you out of the blue about your money, don't talk to them. Just hang up!
If an offer promises 'guaranteed' returns or seems too good to be true, it probably is. Be on your guard. Do your homework and check all the details before signing anything.
Don't be lured by smart brochures and professional looking websites. Scammers want to trick you and this is one way they do it. Check everything and seek reputable advice.
Scammers will try to pressure you with time limited offers and create a sense of urgency. Take your time to make all the checks you need, even if this means turning down an 'amazing' deal. Chances are it isn't that amazing after all. Once you've handed over the money it will be too late.
Don't choose a scheme just because someone you know has. People have fallen for scams because they'd been 'recommended by a friend'. As with any important decisions, investigate the details and seek reputable advice so you know what you're getting into.
This will increase your risk, but scammers often ask for all of your money. Be on your guard against unregulated investments, including those abroad. Bear in mind that some deals may be too good to be true!
You can call them on 0300 123 1047 or visit their website for free pensions guidance. If you're aged 50 or over and have a defined contribution pension, why not book a free appointment with Pension Wise, the free impartial guidance service? Call 0800 138 3944 to book a telephone or face-to-face appointment or visit the website at www.pensionwise.gov.uk.
Scammers can pose as pension advisers, so check to make sure yours is registered on the Financial Conduct Authority’s website: www.fca.org.uk/register. It's a simple check that could make all the difference.
You can reach them on 0300 123 2040. Also, contact your pension provider immediately as they may be able to stop a transfer that hasn't yet taken place.
For more information, please go to www.pension-scams.com. Or, if you are worried that you have been targeted by a scammer it's definitely worth contacting The Pensions Advisory Service on 0300 123 1047 - or if you think you have already have been a victim, contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.
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