23 Oct 2017

Consumers warned to look out for pension fraud scams

Consumers warned to look out for pension fraud scams

The Pensions Regulator is urging consumers to keep their eyes and ears open for pension frauds.

People are being reminded to watch out for scam sites that dress themselves up with anti-fraud messaging to pose as legitimate businesses, and also the need to hang up immediately on pension cold callers.

The Pensions Regulator (TPR) is the regulator of work-based pension schemes in the UK.

It leads Project Bloom, a multi-agency taskforce which is working with Government, the pensions industry, law enforcement agencies and other regulators to combat pension scams.

Mike Broomfield, TPR’s head of intelligence, said: "Scammers are always developing new ways to try to get their hands on people’s pensions, so everyone needs to be on the lookout for potential traps.

“Calling pension-scheme members out of the blue and creating impressive-looking websites to snare potential prey are two methods they use to separate victims from their funds.

“We need consumers to help us find and stop scams. We all can use our eyes and ears to spot the scammers before they can profit at our expense.”

Warning

TPR’s industry liaison team recently travelled around the country meeting financial advisers to spread the warning about fraudsters.

Meanwhile, last month, TPR welcomed new measures to ban pension cold calling which will help prevent potential victims from being stripped of their savings.

The Government has announced that it will bring in legislation for a cold-calling ban, tighter rules to prevent the opening of fraudulent pension schemes and restrictions to prevent transfers into scam schemes.

TPR remains concerned about the opportunity for fraud websites to claim fresh victims by targeting the vulnerable or those with limited pensions knowledge.

A number of suspected scam websites have been referred to TPR over the suspicion that they are being dressed up as legitimate investment vehicles – including carrying the Bloom campaign’s anti-fraud material without TPR’s consent.

Some even imply they are regulated, by carrying warning messages designed to prevent people falling victim to scams, such as making reference to the tax implications over accessing your pension before the age of 55 and the danger of cold callers.

TPR said five signs of a scam to be aware of are:

  • A free pension review
  • The promise of guaranteed returns on your investment
  • Low tax/tax-free rates, including tax-free lump sums
  • Exotic sounding and/or overseas investments
  • Pressure to sign up quickly to avoid missing out

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