By Mike Broomfield, Head of Intelligence at The Pensions Regulator (TPR).
Scammers are criminals and we’re clamping down on their activities. We’re helping to change the law regarding cold calling as well as introducing a range of measures to protect saver’s pensions. But you can protect yourself; here are five top tips to help you beat the scammers.
If you’ve already signed something you’re now unsure about, contact your pension provider straight away. They may be able to stop a transfer that hasn’t taken place yet. Then call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 to report it.
If you have doubts about what to do, ask The Pensions Advisory Service for help. Call them on 0300 123 1047 or visit the TPAS website at www.thepensionsadvisoryservice.org.uk for free pensions advice and information.
If you’re aged 50 or over and have a defined contribution pension (a pension not based on your final salary), Pension Wise is there to help you investigate your retirement options. Visit the Pension Wise website at www.pensionwise.gov.uk to find out more.
Unsolicited phone calls, text or emails about your pension are nearly always scams. Scammers will often claim they’re from Pension Wise or other government-backed bodies. These organisations would never phone or text to offer a pension review.
Beware of unregulated investments offering ‘guaranteed returns’. These include exotic sounding investments like hotels, vineyards or other overseas ventures, and deals where your money is all in one place – and therefore more at risk. Visit the FCA’s Scamsmart website at scamsmart.fca.org.uk to see if the deal you’re being offered is a known scam, or has the hallmarks of a scam.
Don’t be rushed into making a decision. Scammers will try to pressure you with ‘time limited offers’ or send a courier to your door to wait while you sign documents. Take your time to make all the checks you need – even if this means turning down an ‘amazing deal’.
Scammers sometimes pose as financial advisers. Check your adviser is registered on the FCA website at www.fca.org.uk/register, and that they’re authorised to give advice on pensions. If you deal with someone who is not regulated you may not be covered by the Financial Ombudsman Service or Financial Services Compensation Scheme if things go wrong. And don’t be taken in by smart websites or brochures – professional-looking marketing materials are not a guarantee of a company’s authenticity.
People have fallen for scams because they’d been recommended by a friend. Do your homework, even if you consider yourself or your friend to be financially savvy. False confidence can lead to getting stung and with a pension, it might be years before you discover you’ve been scammed.
We continue to help savers and pension scheme trustees combat scammers and have recently unveiled new interactive online tools, flyers, checklists and videos.
We will not let up in the fight against scams and we ask you to be vigilant and arm yourself with the facts. For more information visit www.pension-scams.com
TPR leads a taskforce of government, regulators, financial services bodies and criminal justice agencies (Project Bloom) to disrupt and prevent scams.