How not to get caught by Pension Scammers

Pension scams can come in many shapes and forms so here are a few things to be wary of:

  • An offer of a free pension review
  • Someone telling you that you could have a one-off investment opportunity
  • They could suggest that they could help you access your pension money early. Legally you can only access your pension at age 55. They might use terms like ‘early pension release’, or ‘cashing in your pension’

 

Scams often involve people offering guaranteed returns. Be very careful. If something looks too good to be true, it probably is. If you don’t understand how it works be especially careful.

At a time when you get 1-2% on cash in the bank and long term share market returns have averaged 5%, if anyone is guaranteeing much higher than that take care. Risk and reward tend to go together. The higher the reward the higher the likely risk.

 

So how might these people try to target you?

  • Watch out for a cold call, text message, website pop-up or someone coming to your door offering you a ‘free pension review’, ‘one-off investment opportunity’ or ‘legal loophole’.
  • They often have glossy and convincing marketing materials that promise you returns of over 8% on your investment.
  • They may try to deliver paperwork to your door by courier that requires immediate signature.
  • The proposed investments mostly involve putting your money in a single investment. This is against the general principle that you should have some diversification of your assets. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
  • They may claim that you can access your pension before age 55.

 

So how can you avoid this happening to you?

  • Never be rushed into making a decision. Don’t sign anything until you’ve had a chance to read it all through. Most legitimate schemes will wait for you to return any paperwork.
  • If you’re not sure try to find out more information.
  • Read the pension scams booklet – available on the Pensions Advisory Service (TPAS) website. It includes examples of real life pension scams. If you’re still unsure give them a call on 0300 123 1047.
  • The Government has set up a new service called Pension Wise to help members approaching retirement or age 55.
  • Check that whoever is trying to get you to sign up for something is an adviser regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

 

And just don’t forget that if it seems to good to be true – it probably is.

 

Sarah Pohlinger

25.6.2015