Unfortunately, pension scams are now very common with victims losing some or all of their hard-earned pension savings.
What do you need to check?
Scams can be very hard to spot, but before you do anything, here are some things that you need to check:
- Did they cold call you?
Cold calls relating to pensions are illegal, so if you have been contacted out of the blue by a company that you do not know, you need to check that they are legitimate.
- Are they registered with the FCA?
To be able to give you advice, your adviser must be registered with The Financial Conduct Authority. You can check the register on the FCA website - This link opens in a new browser window.
- Have there been complaints about the company?
Have there been complaints about the adviser, firm or investment? Do a thorough internet search. Also check on forums and social media for mentions.
- How can you contact them?
- How easy is it to contact them?
- 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?
Is it too good to be true?
- Are you being offered guaranteed high returns?
- Are they promising that you can cash in any or all of your pension before the age of 55?
- Are they offering a free pension review or to help you use tax loopholes to your advantage?
- Have they used phrases like pension liberation, loan, loophole, savings advance, one-off investment or cashback?
- Are you being pressured into making a quick decision or under time pressure to sign documents? Has a courier been involved in the process?
- Are the investments unregulated? You can check this at www.fca.org.uk/scamsmart - This link opens in a new browser window
- Are they offering fixed-term investments or investments that seems overly complicated?
If you answer yes to any of these questions, there is a strong risk that the company is a scam. If you have any concerns, no matter how small, visit the MoneyHelper website - This link opens in a new browser window or you can call them on 0800 011 3797.
How to protect your savings
If you receive a call out of the blue about your pension, do not be afraid to hang up and never give any personal details.
Do your research. If you are considering transferring your pension savings be scam smart. Go to www.fca.org.uk/scamsmart - This link opens in a new browser window.
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 adviser in your area on the MoneyHelper website - This link opens in a new browser window. You will have to pay for the advice or services that you receive from the adviser.
If you are over 50 and have a Defined Contribution (DC) pension, Pension Wise - This link opens in a new browser window offers 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.
You can report an unauthorised firm or scam to the FCA using their online reporting form or by calling 0800 111 6768.
If you suspect a scam report it to Action Fraud at www.actionfraud.police.uk - This link opens in a new browser window or by calling 0300 123 2040.
If you do decide to transfer your benefits, the Trustee needs to check certain things about your adviser and the arrangement that you want to transfer to. These checks have been implemented to protect your benefits from scammers. You can read more about the checks on our ‘Trustee checks for transfers’ page. If the Trustee has any concerns, the transfer request may not be processed.
If you have previously been scammed, should you be on guard against recovery or secondary room scams, where fraudsters will approach you and offer to help you get your money back in return for a fee.