Articles - Arm yourself with the facts, don’t lose pension to scammers


A multi-agency task force of government, regulators, financial services bodies and criminal justice agencies are warning savers to be vigilant of the threat that scammers pose to their pensions. is now widely available in the fight against scammers, and now savers are urged to arm themselves with the facts to recognise the hallmark of scams and to protect themselves.

 Scammers will often contact victims out of the blue offering them early access to their cash, or promises of get-rich-quick schemes, but the reality is they are nothing more than elaborate hoaxes designed to spirit away people’s hard-earned money.
  
 One man came within a whisker of handing over his entire pension pot of £90,000, but avoided doing so after checking with official government services.
  
 He said: To this day I still find it unsettling that I may have been one decision away from losing my entire pension pot.
  
 My advice to anyone who suspects a scam is to call Pension Wise or The Pensions Advisory Service (TPAS) and certainly don’t make any decision on your pension until you speak to an expert.
  
 Minister for Pensions Baroness Ros Altmann said:
 The criminals behind this illegal activity often lay a sophisticated trap complete with glossy brochures and professional websites that make them look highly credible. Don’t fall for it.  Their aim is to catch you off your guard so they can steal your hard-earned savings. Scammers wreck people’s lives; it really is as plain and simple as that.
  
 If you suspect a scam, please report it to Action Fraud or contact The Pensions Advisory Service.
  
 Tips for staying safe
 A number of organisations have joined forces to highlight the problem as part of Citizens’ Advice Scams Awareness Month. Together they have released 5 top tips for staying safe.
     
  1.   Beware anyone calling out of the blue offering a free pensions review, it’s probably a scam. The best thing to do is to hang up.
  2.  
  3.   Beware companies offering early access to your money. This is rarely in anyone’s interests and you could be hit with exorbitant early exit fees plus a hefty tax bill.
  4.  
  5.   Beware companies offering to help you trace lost pensions or obtain a pension statement. These services are free from the government website GOV.UK. Scammers often charge for these services and use them as a way to gain your confidence and then steal your cash.
  6.  
  7.   Always contact The Pensions Advisory Service for free and impartial guidance to talk through your options and learn about how to spot a scammer.
  8.  
  9.   Remember: if someone promises you a rate of return that sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
 Citizens Advice believes half of all scams reported to it are from people over the age of 55.
  
 Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:
 Fraudsters aren’t just trying to tempt people’s pension pots away with offers of pension schemes; they also try to entice people to hand over their money with big investment opportunities such as property abroad and fine wines.
  
 Think twice before responding to a cold call or an advert offering a free ‘pension review’, or high-return investment. If you think you’ve been targeted by a scammer, report them to the authorities.
  
 The hidden nature of pension scams is such that it is difficult to calculate exactly how much money has been lost, although recent industry estimates suggest it is close to £1 billion.
  
 Project Bloom, a government led task force, was set up to tackle pension fraud. A number of police raids have taken place, 15 scam websites have been suspended, and the National Crime Agency has snapped up 70 domain names to prevent them from falling into the hands of criminals.
  
 In addition, The Pensions Regulator, which is investigating 9 cases of suspected pension scams, is refreshing its on-going Scorpion campaign on Monday 27 July to help safeguard savers and support trustees, working across government and with a range of partners. The latest updates and information are available at www.pension-scams.com
  
 Chief Executive of The Pensions Regulator Lesley Titcomb said:
 The people behind pension scams are sophisticated and well organised, and we are working hard with our partners to disrupt their activity, take legal action when necessary, and alert the public to the dangers posed by rogue schemes.
  
 Our message is clear: check the facts before you make an irreversible decision. A lifetime’s savings could be lost in a moment.
 While we are committed to investigating scams and bringing those people behind them to justice, the chances of recovering money once it’s been handed over are slim.
  
 The Pensions Advisory Service chief executive Michelle Cracknell said:
 Prevention will always be the best cure when it comes to keeping your pension safe from scammers and we would always recommend that you talk to us before doing anything with your pension.
  
 We provide free and impartial guidance on your options and will be able to tell you how to check the credentials of the companies that you are dealing with.
  

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