Pension scams are on the rise so if you are thinking of investing your pension pot or transferring it to another pension provider, be sure that you protect yourself from scammers.
Although some may appear professional from their marketing materials or personal appearance, this is not always the case.
The risks that accompany transferring your benefits to an illegal company may be very damaging to your future financial security.
In the event that you do fall victim of a scam, it is unlikely that your money will be recoverable so remain vigilant and contact The Pensions Advisory Service if you have any queries or concerns.
Below are five tips for you to consider before taking any action:
1. Do you know who they are?
If you’re using an adviser, make sure they are registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). If they are not registered with the FCA, you may have no consumer protection and thus be covered by the Financial Ombudsman Service or Financial Services Compensation Scheme if things go wrong. You can find out if someone is on the register by looking on the FCA website at www.fca.org.uk/register.
2. Cold callers
If you are worried that you may have fallen victim to a scam, call The Pensions Advisory Service (TPAS) for free help and advice on 0300 123 1047.
The Pensions Regulator website has some useful advice on how to keep yourself safe from scams targeting your pension. Visit: http://www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk/ for more information.
Legislation is yet to go through parliament but it is thought that this law may come into force as early as Spring 2018.
With this in mind, it is important to note that the Government ministers announced new proposals on the 20th August 2017 to crack down on cold callers targeting pension benefits. There are two major changes; the first is an official ban on cold calls, text messages and emails that target private pensions. The second change will stop people from transferring their private pension pots to companies that are not investing money, sometimes referred to as ‘dormant’ companies.
If you receive an unsolicited phone call, text or email, these are nearly always going to be a scam. Legitimate organisations, like Pension Wise or government backed bodies, would never contact you to discuss a pension review.
3. Have you already been scammed?
Please note that the Pension Team would never contact you to discuss a pension review or to gather information from you, especially over the telephone or via text or email.
You can always contact The Pensions Advisory Service at www.pensionadvisoryservice.org.uk or Pension Wise if you require advice on pension scams, or would like advice relating to your retirement options.
Act straightaway if you think you have been scammed. If you have given your details out over the telephone or have signed something that you’re now unsure about, contact your pension provider straight away. They may be able to stop a transfer if it hasn’t already taken place. Then report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.
4. Does it seem too good to be true?
Be wary of attractive ‘deals’ which may include luxury properties, luxury products and high rates of return. In reality it is likely that your money is going to be invested in one place and/or overseas, and this puts your money at more risk of being recoverable.
You can visit the FCA website on www.fca.org.uk/scamsmart to see if the deal you are being offered is a known scam.
5. Put yourself first
Always check the investment is a legitimate one, even if it has been recommended by a friend. It may take years for you to find out that you have been scammed, so being savvy in the first instance, will help reduce any losses in the future.