FCA’s ScamSmart website sees five-fold increase in traffic
In the 55 days before the launch, an average of 562 people per day visited the ScamSmart website. In the 55 days after the launch this rose five-fold (462%) to more than 173,000 people – an average of 3,145 per day. Over 370 pensions holders used the Warning List to identify an unauthorised firm.
New research suggests that half (52%) of 45-65 year olds with a pension still don’t believe they will be targeted by a pensions scammer. Many think they are too savvy to be scammed (21%) or that they didn’t have enough money saved in their pension (18%). However, the statistics tell a different story, with FCA research showing that over 10 millions UK adults received an unsolicited pension offer over the past 12 months. Those that fell victim lost an average of £91,000 each to fraudsters.
The Treasury has laid regulations that will ban pension cold calling early in 2019. However, in the meantime, the ScamSmart campaign aims to give people the tools to avoid scams. It recommends four steps:
- Reject unexpected pension offers whether made online, on social media or over the phone
- Check who you’re dealing with before changing your pension arrangements – check the FCA Register or call the FCA contact centre on 0800 111 6768 to see if the firm you are dealing with is authorised by the FCA
- Don’t be rushed or pressured into making any decision about your pension
- Consider getting impartial information and advice
Attempted scams can be reported at www.fca.org.uk/scamsmart. For most people, their pension is their largest asset outside the family home and few would sign over the keys to the family home without due care and attention.
Mark Steward, the FCA’s executive director of enforcement and market oversight, said: “Our research shows that many pension holders believe they are too savvy to be scammed. But pension scams are often very sophisticated and difficult to spot. Scammers will target people from all walks of life and with any size pension. The best way to protect yourself is to always check the FCA Register to make sure that anyone offering you pension advice or any other financial service is authorised by the FCA.””
Guy Opperman, the minister for pensions and financial inclusion, said that pension scams rob people of the retirement they planned: “I would urge savers to always exercise caution and seek independent guidance or advice before making important financial decisions – free, impartial guidance is available from Pension Wise or The Pensions Advisory Service.”