First and foremost, take confidence in the tremendous amount of work that regulators, industry bodies, law enforcement agencies and customer-focused firms are already doing to fight financial services fraud. Their efforts publicise the scams to avoid, improve consumer knowledge and make it much easier for you to protect yourself. They also give you the information and guidance needed to find the reputable, regulated and trustworthy companies that will help you achieve your financial goals.
For example, in 2015, the government launched Project Bloom – an initiative led by the National Crime Agency, and including the Department for Work and Pensions, The Pensions Regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority, HM Revenue & Customs, the Serious Fraud Office and the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau. It aims to inform people, and to provide tips and guidance on how they can best safeguard themselves. It also investigates illegal activity.
Be wary of cold calls
Many of these companies operate by cold-calling – and, when challenged, will typically be unable to demonstrate that they have a previous relationship with you. That’s why the government has announced plans to ban cold-calling, and make unsolicited texts and emails illegal. Revealing its plans in August this year, the government underlined the need for change – and noted that almost £5m had been obtained by pension scammers in the first five months of 2017.
Guy Opperman, Minister for Pensions and Financial Inclusion: "Today’s figures highlight the extent to which people’s savings are being targeted and stolen through elaborate hoaxes – leaving them with little opportunity to build up their savings again. That is why we are introducing tough new measures for those who scam."
Check that they're regulated
Many pension scammers will try to entice you with promises of low-risk investments that offer mouth-watering returns. Before they go any further, you should hang up. Even if you haven’t been cold-called, it’s important to be sure you’re talking to a company that can give you the right advice to let you make the right decisions for your pension savings.
It’s essential to go to the FCA’s website and check that the company is regulated, and that the adviser you’re speaking to is also regulated to give you pension advice. One important tip is to never use a link that a company sends to you in order to check if they’re regulated. It may take you to a fake website that’s not the FCA’s real one. Instead go directly to www.fca.org.uk. If you haven’t reviewed your pension savings in a while, it’s possible you could be paying more than you need to and that they might be invested in poorly-performing funds – or those that no longer have an appropriate level of risk. You may even have forgotten about some pension savings. Consider getting impartial information and advice from a regulated and reliable company like Profile Pensions which can help ensure your pension savings are in good order.
For more information on pension scams and what to look out for check out the UK Care Guide's tips on how to avoid pension scams in 2020.