Scamwatch: signs of pension fraud

Many savers do not know how to spot a pension scam...

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Stay one step ahead of the fraudsters with our series of articles giving you the lowdown on the scams they use to trick people out of their hard-earned cash - and how to avoid being taken in by them.

This week, we explain how to avoid being taken in by pension fraudsters targeting savers affected by the new pension rules.

How does it work?
The introduction of the new pension regime has opened up lots of new options for pension savers.

Unfortunately, it has also led to a huge rise in the number of fraudsters trying to trick people out of their retirement savings.

Most pension scams involve people being contacted out of the blue by a company or individual offering them a free pension review, an investment opportunity or a way to pay less tax.

Worryingly, recent research from pension provider Zurich indicates that one in four consumers would be tempted by the offer of a free pension review and that only 36% of savers would not consider any of these schemes.

How can I avoid being caught out?
Tell-tale signs that someone is trying to scam you out of your pension savings include that the returns promised are a lot higher than you can find elsewhere.

You might, for example, be offered the chance to invest in a scheme paying annual returns of 8% or more.

If a company cold calls you or sends you an unsolicited letter or email, you should also treat its proposals as suspicious.

Gary Shaughnessy, chief executive of Zurich UK Life, said: "Retirees should be on their guard against firms who contact them out of the blue offering a free review of their pension or an investment that sounds too good to be true.

"Our advice is to reject cold calls, check with the Financial Conduct Authority or Pension Wise and always seek trusted financial advice."

I've been defrauded. What should I do?
If you think you have fallen victim to pension fraud, call The Pensions Advisory Service on 0300 123 1047.

You can also report the scam to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040. Depending on the circumstances, the Pensions Ombudsman may be able to take on your case.

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