Pension scams are a worrying problem and are costing savers millions of pounds. The government has announced a ban on pensions cold calling.
No legitimate pension or investment firm will ever cold call you about releasing cash from your pension, accessing it before you are 55 or extra tax savings, so alarm bells should ring if they do.
Since April 2015, the government’s pension reforms have given the over-55s the freedom to cash in their company and personal pensions.
Thousands of people now have more freedom over what to do with their pension pot. With millions of pounds now accessible that previously weren’t, scammers will circle like vultures and try to take advantage.
Pension scams are not a new thing. But they are likely to become more prevalent now people have more options available to them when it comes to investing or spending their money.
Pension scams may be referred to by shady salesmen as:
These are all different names for essentially the same thing – an agreement to transfer your pension savings to something that allows you access to your funds before the age of 55.
Or, to allow you to access your pension pot as cash in larger quantities than is currently allowed under the law.
Scammers may attempt to sell you a too-good-to-be-true, ‘one-off’ investment, usually via an unsolicited phone call, text message or email, or even in person after calling at your door.
They may even attempt to entice you with upfront cash payments.
Scammers will often offer a ‘free pension review’ to give the impression that they are honest and independent advisers.
You should only get a review from an Independent Financial Adviser registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
Some scammers also advise you to ‘liberate’ your pension into one of these too-good-to-be-true schemes before you turn 55, which isn’t permitted under the new rules
You should always be suspicious if anyone calls you out of the blue to offer you a money-making deal.
If someone calls you, always ask to call them back. Reputable companies will always be happy to let you do this, whereas scammers tend to be more reluctant to give contact details.
Any review of your pension should be conducted by a regulated financial adviser.
Be aware that some firms might pretend to be offering free guidance, and some might even pretend to represent Pension Wise, which the government has made an offence in recent legislation.
Check the FCA’s register of regulated financial services providers. This will tell you whether the company is registered as well as listing any companies being investigated.
Any company claiming to be government-endorsed is not telling the truth.
Don’t proceed unless you are absolutely certain your money will be safe. Once you transfer, it’s too late.
The government has launched an official pension guidance service called Pension Wise. You can to talk about your pension options. The guidance is being delivered by Citizens Advice and the Pensions Advisory Service.
Pension reforms mean people have more options than ever before on how to use their pension pot.
The Which? ‘Better pensions’ campaign is calling for action to make sure everyone can benefit from the freedom and choices available to them.
We want a government-backed scheme to be established to give everyone access to a good value, low-cost pension product, no matter who their pension provider.