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?