New research from award winning retirement income specialist Retirement Advantage suggests that nearly 20% of people over the age of 50 have been targeted by scammers in the past three months. This equates to over 1.8 million people that have been approached by scammers offering unsolicited investment opportunities or pensions advice by email, text or phone.
Retirement Advantage pension technical director Andrew Tully said:
"The pension freedoms have opened the floodgates for scammers and conmen to prey on people who are keen to access their pensions."
"These scammers are using increasingly sophisticated and convincing ways of trying to defraud large amounts of cash from people's hard-earned pensions and savings."
Tully pointed out attempts by financial services providers and regulators to prevent scams had not stopped large sums of money "disappearing into scammers' pockets".
"My concern is the reported fraud and scams are only the tip of the iceberg as many people are either unaware they have been conned or are too ashamed to come forward and report it," he added.
"In response to pressure from the financial services industry, the government has promised to ban pension cold calling. This is a positive move, but we need to keep the pressure up to make sure this issue is back on the government agenda as soon as possible".
The government have long been aware of pension scams, with Richard Harrington, the then pension minister in 2016 saying:
"Scammers are looking for new ways to target people, so don't make it easy for them to steal your hard-earned savings. Think twice and check who's calling. Let's stop these fraudsters in their tracks."
However, we've seen a succession of pension ministers over the past few years, and this revolving door has led to the issue being somewhat missed.
How To Avoid Pension Scams
Reputable Companies Don't Call Out Of The Blue
No reputable organisation will ever call cold call you offering you promises of huge returns if you move your pension to their fund. If anyone cold calls you out of the blue and wishes to discuss with you your pension then simply hang up on them. Chances are that their intentions were not honourable.
Do Your Research
Be wary of any offers or promises that a company makes. If something seems too good to be true then it almost certainly is. Do your homework and research, research and research!
Get Independent Advice
Many pension scammers will have fancy websites and brochures and slick talking 'advisers' who will try to tell you they are independent and giving you unbiased advice. You should always go and get your own, completely independent advice on any financial matter such as pensions.
Don't Be Rushed And Take Your Time
If you are ever rushed to make a decision on a financial matter such as your pension savings then you are almost certainly being scammed. No reputable company would ever do such a thing so proceed with extreme caution.