Police reports show that since the introduction of the pension freedoms, more than £43m in retirement savings has been lost to fraud. Concerns have been raised in parliament, and the Work and Pensions Committee has held an inquiry that, amongst other things, heard evidence as to what might be done to prevent these potentially devastating losses. The Financial Conduct Authority has promised to publish a strategy to tackle the problem.
Research has shown that scammers frequently search for information in social media profiles, emails and texts, that can help them sound genuine and authentic when they cold-call their victims. Fraudsters gather their information from fake online forms, and phishing emails that fool recipients into giving away vital personal infor mation. This means that when they call, they can sound very convincing.
BE ON YOUR GUARD
The much-anticipated ban on pensions cold-calling, that will also include texts and emails, is likely to go before parliament in the first half of 2018. Companies that do not have prior permission to contact consumers, or do not have an existing client relationship with them, will face fines of up to £500,000.
In the meantime, everyone needs to be aware of the signs to look out for. The Pensions Regulator urges savers to protect themselves against pension fraudsters in several ways. It recommends hanging up on anyone who calls out of the blue to discuss pension opportunities. They warn about the dangers of any firms that offer high guaranteed returns, especially on unregulated offshore investments, and recommend that they check that any companies they are thinking of dealing with are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.
Signs that a cold-caller could be part of a scam and trying to trick consumers out of their pension savings include suggesting that what is on offer is only available to sophisticated investors, and will only be available for a short period of time, meaning that decisions must be taken quickly. Be scam savvy – don’t let it happen to you.