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Scams could wipe out pension pots in 24 hours

Written by: Emma Lunn
Warning from The Pensions Regulator finds pension scam victims could lose an average of 22 years of savings in just a day.

The Pensions Regulator (TPR) and Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) have re-launched the ScamSmart campaign to encourage people to protect their savings.

Research by the regulatory bodies found that the more highly educated are more at risk from pension scams, and that nearly two-thirds (63 per cent) of people would trust someone offering pensions advice out of the blue.

Analysis as part of the regulators’ ScamSmart campaign reveals that it could take 22 years for a saver to build a pension pot of £82,000 – the average amount victims lost to scams in 2018.

But despite this, many savers could be at risk of falling for scammers tactics within 24 hours. Almost one in four (24 per cent) people surveyed, admitted to taking 24 hours or less to decide on a pension offer.

Scam tactics

Perhaps surprisingly, the more highly educated the person, the more likely they are to fall for a pension scam. Those with a university degree are 40 per cent more likely to accept a free pension review from a company they’ve not dealt with before, and 21 per cent more likely to take up the offer of early access to their pension pot. These are both common scam tactics.

Pension fraud can be devastating. Victims can be left facing retirement with limited income, and little or no opportunity to build their years of savings back up.

Nicola Parish, TPR executive director of frontline regulation, said: “Pension scammers ruin lives, stealing away decades’ of savings with professional-looking websites, ‘expert’ advice and an easy manner making it tough to spot the fraud. But once you sign on the dotted line, often there’s no second chance. Scams can happen to anyone, so before making any decision about your pension, take your time, be ScamSmart and always check who you are dealing with.”

Kate Smith, head of pensions at Aegon, said: “It’s tempting to dismiss scams as something that only happen to other people. In reality though the one thing scammers don’t do is discriminate. They don’t care if you’re young or old, if you have lots of money or have had to make sacrifices to save what you have, they’re only interested in one thing, getting their hands on your hard-earned savings, if you let them.

“There’s often warning signs that should set the alarm bells ringing, but if you rush into things or are too self-assured you may miss them. For example, if you’re contacted out of the blue and offered a free pension review, the chances are it’s a scam.”

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