‘Be alert’ warning on pension scams

A multi-agency task force is urging savers to be on the alert for pension scammers.

Organisations including the Department for Work and Pensions, the Pensions Regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority, HM Revenue & Customs and the National Crime Agency are working together to tackle the problem.

They issued the warning on 27 July and called for pension savers to protect themselves by learning to recognise the signs of a scam.

Five top tips to avoid falling victim to pensions conmen were also released as part of Citizens’ Advice Scams Awareness Month in July.

  • Beware anyone calling out of the blue offering a free pensions review. The best thing to do is to hang up.
  • Beware companies offering early access to pension savings. This could result in costly early exit fees and a substantial tax bill.
  • The government website GOV.UK offers free lost pension tracing and state pension statements so be wary of companies offering these services.
  • The Pensions Advisory Service offers free and impartial guidance on pensions options and spotting scammers.
  • If someone promises a rate of return that sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

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.”

Recent industry estimates suggest that total money lost through pension scams is close to £1 billion.