Over the years there have been a rising number of people being scammed out of their pensions and retirement savings.
Pension scams appear as attractive, time-limited offers, with the intention of persuading the pension holder to transfer part or all of their retirement savings over to the fraudsters. If you, a friend or family member have a pension waiting to be accessed, make sure you take note of these four warning signs of fraud and act immediately!
1. Immediately reject unexpected offers
Receiving an out-of-the-blue offer for a pension opportunity should ring alarm bells as pension cold calls have been illegal for over a year. So, chances are that if you’re being cold called, it’s a scam. Professional pension advice is very rarely free so watch out for any pro-bono offers too. Don’t think something is safe because you know someone else who has done it. They could also be a victim and just don’t know it yet!
2. Confirm who you’re dealing with
The Financial Services Register can be found on the website www.fca.org.uk and contains the details of everyone who is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). You can also call the FCA Consumer Helpline on 0800 111 6768 to check an individual or organisation’s credentials. Often, fraudsters will claim to be an FCA authorised firm, but don’t take their word on it; check directly with the register, it only takes a few minutes.
3. Watch out for pressure selling
It’s a classic scammer technique to pressure sell, but it’s vital you take your time and carry out proper checks. It’s better to be safe than sorry, especially if this means turning down a ‘once in a lifetime deal’ or an offer which runs for ‘a limited time only’. Promised returns should also arouse your suspicion. Something that sounds too good to be true often is, and all investments come with risk.
4. Get independent advice
Before making any significant changes to your pension arrangements, you should also consider seeking financial guidance or advice. There are several free services out there, including the Pensions Advisory Service and Pension Wise, which offer impartial guidance. It’s also wise to discuss your pensions and savings with a financial adviser – as long as they are regulated and approved by the FCA! Find a list at www.unbiased.co.uk or contact Ascot Lloyd for guidance.
Ascot Lloyd have controls in place to reduce the risk of pensions being transferred to fraudulent arrangements, however, fraudsters can be very sophisticated so it is worth being aware of these points.