Scam Watch: Beware 'free' pension reviews

21 May 2014

Consumers are being warned to be wary of agreeing to a 'free pension review' that could seriously jeopardise their retirement savings.  

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has urged pension savers to be mindful that unregulated companies are cold-calling consumers to offer high-risk investment advice.  

They are also sending emails, text messages and using online advertising.

The aim of the 'review' is to encourage you to move money from an existing personal or occupational pension to a self-invested personal pension (SIPP) or a small self-administered scheme (SSAS).

The money is then typically invested in investments not regulated by the FCA, such as overseas property developments, forestry or storage units known as store pods.

Such investments can be enormously risky and can be difficult to sell and consumers could lose all the money they move, reducing what they have to live on in retirement.

And they also have less protection should anything go wrong and may not be able to complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

The majority of companies offering the reviews are not authorised by the FCA, although some falsely claim they are acting on its behalf.

Others claim to be working with the government following the Budget commitment in March to introduce a free advice service for people at retirement.

However, no such service has been launched yet, so these claims are highly unlikely to be true.

Have you been scammed? Let the Moneywise Scam Watch team know by emailing

Unregulated investments

Tracey McDermott, director of enforcement and financial crime at the FCA, said: "People should be very wary if they are contacted out of the blue by someone offering a 'free pension review'. Most of the companies offering this 'service' are not authorised by us, and we're concerned that the reviews often end with pension pots placed in higher-risk, unregulated investments.
"If you see or receive offers of 'free pension reviews', just ignore them. If you are called out of the blue to discuss your pension, just hang up. Your pension is far too important to be put in the hands of a cold-caller."  

Remember that authorised financial advisers offering impartial advice are very unlikely to cold call customers – especially to offer their services for free.

You can check to see if a company is regulated at

Add new comment