The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has warned pension holders to beware of scammers’ ‘magic tricks’ as research shows the economic squeeze is encouraging more people to withdraw pension savings.
Britain’s financial watchdog recently launched its latest ScamSmart campaign aiming to give consumers the knowledge and tools to avoid scams. Over 700,000 pension plans were accessed for the first time in 2021-22 and FCA research suggests that number could increase this year, with a quarter of all pension holders considering an early raid due to cost-of-living pressures. This puts a significant number of people at risk of potential scams.
Pension scam tactics
Scammers typically prey on consumers’ misunderstanding of how pensions work and pension pots grow. To help people avoid falling victim, the FCA has compiled a list of common scam techniques which include: high-pressure sales tactics using ‘time-limited offers’; guaranteed higher returns; unusual unregulated investments; arrangements involving several parties; any offer to release pension funds for under-55s.
FCA research also highlights consumer vulnerability to some classic ‘distraction’ tactics scammers employ. Around 44% of pension holders, for instance, said they would take up the offer of a free pension review, while 46% could be swayed by a scammer providing details of a third party (falsely) vouching for their offer.
Mark Steward, FCA Executive Director of Enforcement, is urging consumers to check out the watchdog’s ScamSmart website in order to “avoid being tricked by scammers.” He added, “Pension scammers are tricking victims with false promises of a better lifestyle in retirement. Like the magician’s trick, thousands can disappear in seconds, but this time the consequences can be devastating.”
Trust your instinct
If you ever have any doubts when contacted in relation to your pension, trust your instinct and get in touch with us.
The value of investments and income from them may go down. You may not get back the original amount invested.