New research has revealed that the number of people being targeted by potential pension scammers has risen significantly over the past 12 months.
The figures, produced by pension provider Retirement Advantage, reveal that:
- 35% of people over the age of 55 have been contacted by potential pension scammers over the past three months
- This is up from 20% during the same period last year
Scammers usually target potential victims via a cold call, or unsolicited text or email offering free pension advice, early access to a pension or other investment opportunities.
5 steps to avoid a potential pension scam
Retirement Advantage has highlighted five ways to spot and ultimately avoid a scam:
#1: Early access
Many pension scams purport to offer you early access to your pension.
Except in very rare circumstances, such as extreme ill health, pensions cannot be accessed until you are at least 55. You should be very wary of anyone who suggests otherwise, it is likely to turn out to be a scam.
#2: Taking large lump sums
Currently, you can take up to 25% of your pension as a tax-free lump sum, any other withdrawals are added to your income and taxed accordingly.
Many pension scammers suggest you take large lump sums to invest elsewhere. This could mean that basic rate (20%) taxpayers end up paying significantly higher rates of tax, 40% or even 45%, simply to make an investment, which may not be prudent in the first place.
#3: Putting you under pressure
Telling you that a deal is only available for a short period of time, or employing other similar tactics to put pressure on you to make a decision, is another clear signal that you may be falling victim to a scammer.
No reputable adviser will ever put pressure on you to make decisions.
#4: You are discouraged from seeking advice
A bone fide Independent Financial Adviser will be able to spot a pension scam, which is why scammers often discourage their victims from seeking professional advice.
If you are unsure whether or not an investment is a good idea, especially if it sounds too good to be true, we would always recommend seeking advice from an adviser authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
A list of such advisers can be found by clicking here.
#5: You are contacted by an unregulated adviser
Most scams start with an unsolicited approach either by text, email or phone call; if you receive such an approach it makes sense to assume it is a scam.
Furthermore, if you are contacted by an unregulated adviser, who doesn’t appear on the FCA register, again it would be safer to make the same assumption.
If you think you are being scammed
The Pensions Regulator offers further guidance if you think you are being targeted:
Before you sign anything contact the Pensions Advisory Service, click here to go to their website
If you have already signed report it to Action Fraud, click here to go to their website
Make sure the adviser is approved by the FCA, click here to go to their website
To understand your options contact Pensions Wise, click here to go to their website
The Pensions Regulator has also produced a video showing you how to avoid being scammed, click here to watch it now.
We are here to help
We are here to help and offer you more guidance on how to avoid being scammed.
Furthermore, as FCA registered Independent Financial Advisers, we are also here to help and guide you on the options you have with your pension.
Call us on 0115 933 8433 or email email@example.com