Pension and investment scams are on the increase in the UK. Everyday fraudsters are using sophisticated ways to part savers from their money, and the Internet and advances in digital communications mean these kinds of scams are getting more common and harder to identify. A lifetime’s savings can be lost in moments.
Nearly one in ten over-55s fear they have been targeted by suspected scammers since the launch of Pension Freedoms, new research shows.
Tactics commonly used to defraud
The study found 9% of over-55s say they have been approached about their pension funds by people they now believe to be scammers since the rules came into effect from April 2015. Offers to unlock or transfer funds are tactics commonly used to defraud people of their retirement savings.
One in three (33%) of over-55s say the risk of being defrauded of their savings is a major concern following pension freedoms. However, nearly half (49%) of those approached say they did not report their concerns because they did not know how to or were unaware of who they could report the scammers to.
Reporting suspected scammers to authorities
Most recent pension fraud data from Action Fraud, the national fraud and cybercrime reporting service, shows 991 cases have been reported since the launch of pension freedoms involving losses of more than £22.687 million.
Alternative investments such as wine offered
The research found fewer than one in five (18%) of those approached by suspected scammers had reported their fears to authorities. Nearly half (47%) said the approaches involved offers to unlock pension funds or access money early, and 44% said they involved transferring pensions.
About 28% of those targeted by suspected fraudsters were offered alternative investments such as wine, and 20% say they were offered overseas investments, while 13% say scammers had suggested investing in crypto-currencies. Around 6% believe they have been victims of frauds.
Safeguarding hard-earned retirement savings
Pension freedoms, though enormously popular with consumers, have created a potentially lucrative opportunity for fraudsters, and people need to be vigilant to safeguard their hard-earned retirement savings.
If it sounds too good to be true, then it usually is, and people should be sceptical of investments that are offering unusually high rates of return or which invest in unorthodox products which may be difficult to understand. If in any doubt, seeking professional financial advice from a regulated adviser will help ensure you don’t get caught out.
Some scammers have very convincing websites and other online presence, which make them look like a legitimate company. Always check with the FCA to make sure they’re registered.
 Consumer Intelligence conducted an independent online survey for Prudential between 23 and 25 February 2018 among 1,000 UK adults aged 55+ including those who are working and retired