Pension and investment scams are on the rise and, sadly, an increasing number of people are losing money through them. According to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), British victims of pension scams lose an average of almost £51,000.
Pension and investment scams often involve an individual or firm fraudulently offering pension or investment opportunities that appear too good to be true.
Scammers sometimes contact potential victims pretending to be a legitimate company and, at other times, impersonate a legitimate firm or even the victim’s personal financial adviser.
Pension and investment scammers are well-versed in persuading people to give them sensitive information or – perhaps even worse – money. Read on to learn how to spot a pension or investment scam, how to avoid being targeted, and what to do if you think you’ve been a victim of a financial scam.
Red flags of a pension or investment scam
Scammers are clever and there are many ways in which they fool people. Here are a few of the more common red flags that a communication could be a scam.
When a scammer directs you to a website, it often looks incredibly like the real website of the company they’re impersonating. This is a convincing trick and one that many people have fallen foul of. Look carefully at any website and URL and compare it to the legitimate website.
Spelling and grammar
While some scammers are almost undetectable, others give themselves away by using unprofessional language or poor spelling and presentation.
Look out for any emails or websites in which the contact details are only PO Box addresses and mobile phone numbers.
If a company doesn’t provide you with any method of contacting them or calling them back, it’s also a definite red flag. Any legitimate firm or individual will have a registered business address and phone number.
If you receive any contact without asking, proceed with caution. This could be a phone call, email, letter, text message, or even in person.
If you’re not expecting the communication, it could well be a scam. Regarding pensions in particular, a legitimate company will never make an unsolicited approach; indeed, in 2019, a law was passed, making pension cold-calling illegal.
Promise of savings
If a company or person contacts you to tell you about tax savings or loopholes, this is a warning sign. Other things to watch out for are a supposed company that offers a low-risk, high return investment. Generally, if an offer or investment seems too good to be true, it probably is.
A scammer may put you under pressure to make a quick decision or act quickly. Be wary of time-limited offers, or being asked to make a choice while on the phone, or to transfer money without delay.
How to protect yourself from pension and investment scams
While pension and investment scammers can be clever, the good news is that there are ways to prevent yourself falling foul of their scams.
Search the company online
If you’ve been approached by a company that you’re not already working with, search for them online. If you find negative reviews, or not much information at all, they could be scammers. Social media channels are also useful places to check if other people are discussing the same company.
Check with the FCA and HMRC
Before giving any information to a person or company, and certainly before transferring any money or pensions, check that they are registered with the FCA and HMRC. If they are not registered, they’re unlikely to be legitimate.
What to do if you think you’re being targeted
If you think someone might be pretending to be your financial adviser or planner, end the call or ignore the email, and contact your adviser immediately.
If it turns out it was genuinely them contacting you, they won’t be perturbed – they’d far rather their clients were careful and will always be happy to help.
What to do if you’ve been a victim of a scam
If you suspect you’ve been a victim of a scam report it to Action Fraud using their online tool, or call them on 0300 123 2040. Also report the crime to the police on their non-emergency line. If you are in any danger, you should contact the police urgently on 999.
Get in touch
If you have been offered an investment opportunity and you want to check it is legitimate, we can help. Please email email@example.com or call 0115 933 8433.