£1.8m lost to pension fraud so far this year
The rise in scams comes after pension scam reports fell by 80% between 2014 and 2020.
Pension scams often include free pension reviews, ‘too good to be true’ investment opportunities, or offers to help release money from your pension even though you’re under 55.
The true scale of pension fraud is likely to be much higher than what is being reported, as victims often don’t realise they have been scammed until many years later.
Action Fraud has launched a national awareness campaign to remind people about the importance of doing your research before making changes to your pension arrangements.
Pauline Smith, head of Action Fraud, said: “Criminals are malicious and unapologetic when it comes to committing pension fraud. They are motivated by their own financial gain and lack any kind of empathy for their victims, who can often lose their whole life savings to these scams.
“We know pension fraud can have a devastating impact, both financially and emotionally, but any one of us can fall victim to a fraud and it’s nothing to feel ashamed or embarrassed about. It’s incredibly important that instances of pension fraud, and attempted scams, are reported to Action Fraud. Every report helps police get that bit closer to the people committing these awful crimes. Reporting to Action Fraud also allows our specialist victim-support advocates to provide people with important protection advice and signpost them to local support services.”
Rocio Concha, director of policy and advocacy at Which?, said: “Pension scams can result in savers losing their entire retirement income in an instant, but despite the huge financial and emotional impact of this crime, online platforms, including search engines and social media firms, are failing to take the action required to prevent fake and fraudulent content being used to target victims on an industrial scale.
“The case for including scams in the Online Safety Bill is overwhelming. Online platforms must be given a legal responsibility to identify, prevent and remove fake and fraudulent content on their sites and give their users the protection they deserve. The government must not miss the opportunity to act.”
How to protect yourself from pension scams
Always check the FCA Register to make sure that anyone offering you pension advice or any other financial service is authorised by the FCA to perform the service they are providing for you, and that the details they are providing are the same as those on the register.
Reject unexpected pension opportunities, such as free pension reviews or investment opportunities involving your pension, whether made via email, social media, text, or over the phone.
Don’t be rushed or pressured into making any decision about your pension. Consider getting impartial information and advice from a financial advisor authorised by the FCA to help you make the best decision for your own personal circumstances.
If you think you’ve been a victim of pension fraud, contact your pension provider immediately and report it to Action Fraud online at actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.
If you’ve agreed to transfer your pension and now suspect a scam, contact your pension provider straight away. They may be able to stop a transfer that hasn’t taken place yet. If you are unsure of what to do contact the Pensions Advisory Service for help.