Financial Adviser Magazine
(by Andrew Sullivan August 25, 2020)
A total of £30,857,329 has been reportedly lost to pension scammers since 2017 according to complaints filed with Action Fraud, says the Financial Conduct Authority and The Pensions Regulator.
Scammers targeted pension pots big and small, with reported losses ranging from under £1,000 to as much as £500,000 and the average victim being a man in his 50s.
But the true number of victims is likely to be much higher as savers fail to spot the signs of a scam and don’t know how much is in their pots.
New research shows that’s particularly true for football fans approaching retirement, with just 43% knowing how much is in their pot and nearly half (45%) not knowing how to check if an approach about their pension is legitimate.
Scammers design attractive offers to persuade savers to transfer their pension pots to them, often setting ‘time-limited offers’ or deadlines to pressure the victims into releasing their money.
That’s why, as part of their ScamSmart campaign, the regulators have teamed up with football commentator Clive Tyldesley (aged 65) who said: “Scammers are very good at breaking down defences and putting you under pressure with various deadlines. But a pension isn’t a football transfer – there are no deadlines! Your favourite team wouldn’t buy a new striker just because his agent says he’s good. They’d ask around, check out his stats, do some research – just like savers should when handling their pension plans. Before you fall foul to savvy scammers, remember to take your time, seek advice, and speak to an FCA authorised adviser. Don’t agree to anything you’re unsure of.”
Fans are also risking an own goal by not knowing the value of their most prized asset. 76% know the cost of items related to their team, such as a football shirt or season ticket etc., but only 43% knew how much was currently in their pension pot.
Overconfidence could be an issue with nearly two thirds (65%) saying they’d be confident in spotting a scam approach. But 4 in 10 (39%) would put themselves at risk unknowingly by engaging with a common scam tactic such as being told it’s a time-limited offer, or that there is a guaranteed high return on their savings.
Mark Steward, Executive Director of Enforcement and Market Oversight, FCA, said: “During these uncertain times, it is more important than ever to defend your lifetime savings from scammers. Fraudsters will seek out every opportunity to exploit innocent people, no matter how much or how little you have saved. You can check the status of a firm before changing your pension by visiting the FCA register, and get advice from an FCA authorised firm before making any changes to your pension.”
Charles Counsell, Chief Executive, TPR, said: “Scammers wreck lives and no matter how big or small your savings are, every pot is a target. It may seem tempting to make a change to your pension fund now, but it’s important not to rush. Before making any decision about your pension, take your time, and visit the ScamSmart website to always check who you are dealing with.”
How fans can stop themselves scoring a pensions own goal
The regulators recommend four simple steps to protect yourself from pension scams:
- Don’t be rushed or pressured into making any decision about your pension
- Reject unexpected pension offers whether made online, on social media or over the phone
- Check who you’re dealing with before changing your pension arrangements – check the Financial Services Register or call the FCA helpline on 0800 111 6768 to see if the firm you are dealing with is authorised by the FCA
- Consider getting impartial information and advice