This is the practice of luring pension holders into moving their pension funds into unregistered schemes with the offer of high returns or early access to their funds. Millions of pounds has been lost to pension scams over the years and with the advent of “pension freedoms” scammers have become increasingly active.
Commons tactics used include:
- Unsolicited telephone call, text messages and website “pop-ups” offering a “free pension review”;
- The offer of a guaranteed high level of return or a “one off” investment opportunity;
- The use of a “legal loophole” to access your pension before the minimum age of 55 and which they are not able to share with you due to its intellectual commercial value;
- Marketing material promising high, risk-free returns or an opportunity only available for a limited time;
- Offering investments in luxury products, property, environmental solutions, storage or parking;
- Offering upfront cash incentives;
- Purporting to take advantage of “government initiatives”;
- Documentation delivered to your door by courier requiring immediate signature;
- A proposal to transfer your pension into one single investment or to transfer abroad;
- Using an authentic looking website (these can be cloned from legitimate organisations);
- Not providing contact names, addresses or phone numbers.
All of the above should sound alarm bells, but what can you do protect yourself?
- Be extremely wary of unsolicited, call, texts and emails;
- Check everything – don’t rely on the recommendation of a friend;
- Check the person contacting you is registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) at www.fca.org.uk/firms/financial-services-register;
- Check the FCA’s website for their list of know scams;
- Don’t be fooled by “guarantees” or the promise of high returns – if it looks too good to be trust then it probably is.
- Don’t be rushed for a decision;
- Be particularly wary of “unregulated” investments. This means there is no statutory protection or compensation scheme should things go awry;
- If you are unsure seek a second professional opinion. If you still have doubts contact The Pensions Advisory Service for help – 0300 123 1047.
If you have already signed documentation and you now suspect you have been scammed contact Action Fraud – 0300 123 2040.
Unfortunately I have been introduced to a number of local people who have been duped and it occurs more often than you might imagine. These individuals have been intelligent, sensible and were just looking to make the most from their pensions. The scammers have been very clever and convincing – it is easy to see how they have been able to con many, many people who have worked hard to build a pension pot for their retirement. Please don’t be one of them – be on your guard – you have been warned!
Author: Paul Newton FPFS, Certs PFS (DM & Securities), Certs CII (MP & ER), STEP Affiliate, Cert PMI is a Chartered Financial Planner for Castlegate Financial Management Limited, a firm of Independent Financial Advisers, authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. 8 Castlegate Grantham Lincolnshire. 01780 591022. This article is for information purposes only and does not constitute financial advice which should be sought before any action taken. Please note tax advice is not regulated.