Since the introduction of pension freedoms, pension scams are on the rise, with the Citizens Advice Bureau revealing that 88% of people are missing pension scam warning signs. When the government introduced these rules in April 2015, it allowed people to access their private pension funds all at once.
Although the new rules have given people the freedom to do what they want with their money, rather than being forced to buy and annuity, it has also given rise to a new type of fraudster who preys on people’s hard earned pension.
So what should you be looking out for?
Some of the main tactics scammers are using are;
- High investment returns. Anything offering more than an 8% return should raise a red flag.
- Cold calling or other out of the blue contact including online and postal should be dealt with as suspicious.
- Offers of free financial advice.
- Offers to place your pension in a single, overseas investment deal.
- The use of what appears to be professional looking websites and brochures. Just because a “company” has a credible looking website and implies they have links with government organisations, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are legitimate, it just means they are well funded/connected. Always make sure you do your own independent research.
Unfortunately, these scammers are not only hurting those pension pot holders who fall victim to them, but are also causing a backlash against genuine financial advisors. Research in April 2015 carried out by Which? found that a third of over 55s were contacted about their pension by companies that could be frauds, yet many were not sure that they could spot a genuine investment. Because of this inability to distinguish between fraud and genuine, there is a surge of people believing that they are being scammed by true, law abiding financial advisors.
If you are unsure about anyone who has contacted you regarding your pension then the best place to check whether they are authorised to give financial advice is to visit the Financial Services Register at www.fca.org.uk/register. Here you will be able to check both the company Financial Conduct Authority number and also any individual adviser that you may speak to. You can also check the legitimacy of a company on the Companies House website at www.companieshouse.gov.uk.
If you are in doubt, ask a company you know is genuine like Gale and Phillipson. We’ll happily provide our links to the FCA and companies house, so you can check for yourself. If you have been offered something that sounds too good to be true, come show us. We can go over it and explain how it works, and if it truly is a scam or not.