More than one in five over 50s has been targeted by a scammer in the last three months, according to research from Retirement Advantage.
The retirement specialist says this amounts to 1.8 million people who have been approached by scammers by text, phone or email, with offers of free pensions advice or dubious investment opportunities.
Commenting on the findings, Andrew Tully, pensions technical director at Retirement Advantage says: “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.
“Attempts by the industry and regulators to prevent scams is not preventing huge sums of money disappearing into the scammers pockets. 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 company has the following tips to protect yourself from pension scams:
- Be suspicious of offers to unlock your pension before the age of 55. This is only permitted in unusual circumstances, for example, if you are very ill. If in doubt, check with your pension provider before agreeing to anything.
- The same goes for people suggesting you take a lump sum out of your pension to invest it elsewhere. In addition to paying unnecessary tax on your withdrawal it may not be an appropriate investment.
- If it is a legitimate offer you will not be expected to rush or make a decision on the same day.
- Check anyone you are contacted by is registered with the Financial Conduct Authority.
- A list of known scams is available at FCA Scam Smart.
- You can also call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 if you suspect you’re speaking to scammers.