The UK’s National Fraud & Cyber Crime Reporting Center (Action Fraud) has launched a national awareness campaign to warn citizens about the importance of protecting their pensions from fraudsters.
Although pension scam reports have decreased considerably since 2014, the agency has received 107 notifications from swindled savers between January and March 2021 – a 45% increase compared to the same period in 2020.
The latest data reveals that Brits have lost a whopping £1.8 million to pension fraud since the beginning of the year. However, the number of impacted citizens and losses is undoubtedly higher since it can take victims years to discover any fraudulent activity.
According to the law enforcement agency, some of the most prevalent pension scams include fake investment opportunities, early pension releases and free pension reviews. Scammers will often contact consumers via unsolicited phone calls, emails, and text messages or advertise fake web pages on social media platforms.
How to protect against pension scams
The first step is to ignore and reject any unsolicited pension opportunities promoted via cold calls, emails, social media or text.
Research and check the FCA Register before making any changes in your pension plan. Be suspicious of any spontaneous too-good-to-be-true investment opportunities and stay away from any high-pressure sales tactics.
Scammers will often push victims into deciding on the spot or risk losing a limited-time offer. Moreover, in some cases, cybercriminals and scammers may ask you to download an app or software on your device to assist you remotely. Never click on links or install suspicious apps on devices since fraudsters can take over banking accounts and make transactions in your name.
“Scammers target people from all walks of life,” Mark Steward, Director of Enforcement and Market Oversight at the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), said. “It doesn’t matter the size of your pension pot, scammers destroy retirement dreams so it’s vital that consumers know how to protect themselves from scammers.”
He adds that “the best way to protect yourself is to know who you’re dealing with.”
“Always check the FCA Register to make sure that the FCA authorizes anyone offering you pension advice or any other financial service to perform the service they are providing for you, and that the details they are providing are the same as those on the Register.”
Citizens who believe they’ve been a victim of pension fraud should notify local authorities immediately.