Scamwatch: bogus pension calls

Pension savers targeted by ruthless fraudsters.

Updated: 
portrait of worried elderly...

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 issue a warning about pension fraudsters who target older Britons with cold calls offering "investment opportunities".

How does it work?

The freeing up of pensions to allow people more investment choice has had an unwanted side effect: a huge increase in pension fraud.

Figures from City of London Police show that losses from pension fraud surged 235% to £4.5 million in May 2015, the month after the new pension regime was introduced.

Many of the scams involve fraudsters encouraging pension savers to take their money out using the freedoms and invest it in questionable investments with the promise of larger returns.

And the government is unable to stop such calls, which are governed by Privacy and Electronic Communications rules.

Pension minister Ros Altmann said: "A common scam is someone phoning up offering a pension review... we would like to ban cold calling for pensions but we are unable to do that."

How can I avoid being caught out?

According to the Privacy and Electronic Communications rules, companies are not allowed to call people who are registered with the Telephone Preference Service. Signing up for the service may therefore help to prevent some calls.

If you are approached about a pension opportunity, meanwhile, it is always worth talking to an adviser not associated with the deal to get some unbiased advice before going ahead.

The Pensions Regulator also recommends never giving out personal or financial information to a cold caller, and checking that companies are authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority.

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.

The Pensions Ombudsman may be able to take on your case, but is unlikely to be able to recoup your cash from a fraudulent firm.

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