How to avoid falling victim to pension scammers
The long-awaited ban on pension cold calling was due to be implemented by the end of June, but the date was pushed back to Autumn as the government missed the deadline.
While the ban is good news for pensioners, those approaching retirement still need to be on guard as it won’t stamp out all scams.
Those aged 55 and over are attractive targets as they have access to potentially large amounts of money.
As such, WEALTH at Work lists these top tips to help you avoid losing your life savings:
- Scams don’t look like scams
Scams look and sound legitimate, which is why people are hoodwinked. They often have very professional looking websites and literature. Whatever you’re planning to do with your pensions money, before you do anything, check the company is registered with the regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
- Too good to be true
If an investment offers the opportunity of a lifetime, run away as fast as you can. It’s likely to be a scam and it’ll be too bad for you if you fall for it.
- You’ve been googled
Legitimate investment companies are very unlikely to cold call. The people that run pension scams are clever and may have been able to get hold of some of your personal details, not just about you, but your local area and interests. Don’t let their knowledge and friendliness take you off guard and allow them to con you.
- Don’t rush a decision
Genuine advisers will never rush you to make a decision. Anything that talks about limited time offers is likely to be too good to be true. Always check with the FCA.
- Facts not fraud
Pensions can normally only be accessed after you reach 55, unless you’re seriously ill. In normal circumstances, if someone promises to release your pension early they are lying, and it’s a scam. Make sure you know the facts to avoid the fraudsters.
- Check it out
If you’re unsure always contact your employer if it relates to your pension at work, or The Pensions Advisory Service (TPAS) or Pension Wise for any other kind of pension.
- Protect your privacy
Scammers will use technology and try to contact individuals through various means such as social media, texts, telephone calls and emails. If you’re in doubt, ignore it and hang up the phone or delete the message. Your phone company should be able to help by blocking any offending numbers, and email providers can help you to block emails from specific senders. Beware of what you share through social media and check your privacy settings are as secure as possible.
- Help stop the scams
If you think you’re being scammed, contact TPAS immediately. Not only will it try to help you, but it will be able to help others from falling for the same scam.
Jonathan Watts-Lay, director of WEALTH at Work, said: “The crucial thing to remember is that scams don’t look like scams. In our financial education seminars we show adverts from organisations that are ‘too good to be true’ to prove how hard they can be to spot. The rule is, whatever investment you are planning to make, check out the company with the FCA first. If it hasn’t heard of the firm, you will have no place to go if it turns out to be fraudsters.”