Pension scams are becoming more widespread and can be hard to spot. Indeed it has become such a big problem that pension cold calling is now illegal.
What do you need to look out for?
If you have been approached out of the blue either via social media, phone or letter to transfer your pension, ask yourself these questions, and call The Pensions Advisory Service on 0300 123 1047 if you have any doubts:
The company that contacted you:
- Did you get cold called?
- Is the firm FCA registered?
- And is it authorised to give advice on pensions?
You can check at https://register.fca.org.uk.
Make sure the firm contacting you is not impersonating a genuine FCA authorised firm. Always use the contact details on the FCA Register, not the details the firm gives you.
- Have there been complaints about the adviser, firm or investment? Do a thorough internet search. Also check on forums and social media for mentions
- Is their address a PO Box or a serviced office? Again, do a thorough internet search of the address to check
- Can you contact the business at their registered office?
- Is the contact number a mobile number?
What were they offering?
- Are you being offered guaranteed returns?
- Are you being pressured into making a quick decision or under time pressure to sign documents?
- Are the investments regulated by the FCA? Check at www.fca.org.uk/scamsmart
- Has a courier been involved in the process?
What you can do
Be wary of offers of free pension reviews. A free offer out of the blue (from a company you have not dealt with before) is probably a scam.
Get impartial information or advice.
You can use a financial adviser to help you make the best decision for your own personal circumstances. Make sure they are regulated by the FCA and never take investment advice from the company that contacted you. This may be part of the scam.
You can find an Independent Financial Adviser in your area at www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk.
If you’re over 50 and have a Defined Contribution (DC) pension, Pension Wise (www.pensionwise.gov.uk) offers pre-booked appointments to talk through your retirement options.
Be very cautious. As well as losing your life savings you could also face a huge tax bill.
Remember if it sounds too good to be true it probably is.