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Estimated 1.8m over 50s targeted by scammers in just 3 months

2 August 2017

Research by Retirement Advantage suggests that 1 in 5 people (18%) aged 50 or over* has been targeted by a potential scammer in the past three months. This equates to 1.8m people who have been offered unsolicited free pensions advice or investment opportunities by phone, text or email.

Andrew Tully, pensions technical director at Retirement Advantage, 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.”

He added that despite attempts by the industry and regulators to prevent scams is not preventing scammers from profiting.

“My concern is the reported fraud and scams is only the tip of the iceberg as many people are unaware they’ve been conned or are too ashamed to come forward and report it.

“The Government, prompted by pressure from the financial industry, has promised to ban pension cold calling. This is a positive move, but we need to keep the pressure up to make sure this comes back onto the government agenda as soon as possible.

“We all have a responsibility to be on constant guard, but the basic rule of thumb still stands, if an opportunity sounds too good to be true, it almost certainly is.”

Retirement Advantage has highlighted key things consumers need to be alert for:

1. An offer to help access a pension savings before age 55.

2. A recommendation to take a large amount of money, or a whole pension pot, in a lump sum and invest it.

3. Warnings that the deal is limited and must be act upon now.

4. Being steered away from seeking professional financial advice or talking to Pension Wise or The Pensions Advisory Service (TPAS).

5. Contact is from a person not on the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) Register.

Action points

Retirement Advantage suggests consumers the FCA ScamSmart warning list for known scams (http://scamsmart.fca.org.uk/), and use the TPAS tool to help identify a potential scam. (https://tkd.pensionsadvisoryservice.org.uk/tkflow_live/Flow.aspx?f=PensionScams).

Anyone suspecting fraud should check with their financial adviser, TPAS or their current pension provider, or call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or online at actionfraud.police.uk.

* Research was conducted by Censuswide in June 2017 among 1,005 people aged 50 and over, yet to retire, who have some form of private pension savings.

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