Back

Beware of Pension Fraudsters

May 2020

by James Hogg

Fraudsters are exploiting fears over the COVID-19 pandemic to target pension savers and investors. The Pensions Regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Money and Pensions Service have issued a joint statement urging people not to make rash pension decisions in the wake of the global pandemic, as criminals try to exploit public fears over the market turmoil to dupe victims out of their cash.

Persuading you to transfer you pension pot

Scammers will make false claims to gain your trust – for example, claiming they are authorised by the FCA or that they don’t have to be FCA-authorised because they aren’t providing the advice themselves, or claiming to be acting on the behalf of the FCA or the government service Pension Wise.

Scammers also design attractive offers to persuade you to transfer your pension pot to them (or to release funds from it). It is then often invested in unusual and high-risk investments like overseas property, renewable energy bonds, forestry, storage units; or, invested in more conventional products but within an unnecessarily complex structure which hides multiple fees and high charges; or stolen outright.

Fraudsters look to exploit people’s anxieties and fears

Attempts to scam personal data and monies are likely to increase during the COVID-19 pandemic and economic downturn as fraudsters look to exploit people’s anxieties and fears. You need to be aware of receiving emails, calls or texts from criminals impersonating investment companies, insurers, pensions providers and other organisations to trick you into providing personal or financial information or money.

Cold calls about your pension – it is illegal for firms to contact you out of the blue about your pension, and you should hang up. The caller may offer to help you access your pension before age 55, or offer you a ‘free pensions review’.

Phishing emails – these attempt to trick people into opening malicious attachments or reveal personal or financial information.

Ghost brokers – fraudsters may attempt to use an insurer’s branding to promote and sell fake or invalid pension or investment products which may claim to offer COVID-19 protection.

What should I look for?

  • Be suspicious of offers that seem too good to be true
  • Do not feel pressured or agree to offers or deals on insurance, pensions or investments
  • Check the credentials of the person you are dealing with by getting a name and contact details. You can check the financial service register to make sure you are dealing with a regulated company. Hang up and call them back on details you can verify
  • Never give your personal details out, such as an insurance or pensions policy number or other account details
  • Always use contact details on your documents provided by your insurer or pension provider
  • Don’t assume all online sites are genuine
  •  

    The content in this publication is for your general information and use only and is not intended to address your particular requirements. Articles should not be relied upon in their entirety and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute, advice. Although endeavours have been made to provide accurate and timely information, there can be no guarantee that such information is accurate as of the date it is received or that it will continue to be accurate in the future. No individual or company should act upon such information without receiving appropriate professional advice after a thorough examination of their particular situation. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of any articles. Thresholds, percentage rates and tax legislation may change in subsequent Finance Acts. Levels and bases of, and reliefs from, taxation are subject to change and their value depends on the individual circumstances of the investor. The value of your investments can go down as well as up and you may get back less than you invested. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future results.
    Back