The City of London police estimates that £42 million has been lost to “pension liberation fraud” since April 2014 when George Osborne, the former chancellor, announced radical changes to pension rules.
However, £8.6 million was lost in March 2017 alone (the latest month that figures are available for), indicating that overall losses in 2017 could be higher than for 2015 and 2016 combined.
Some pension experts believe these estimates are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to overall losses due to pension scams.
Pension scammers usually operate by making unsolicited calls or sending unsolicited emails and conning their victims into placing their pension funds in investments that do not exist or that have no chance of delivering the promised returns.
Government recently announced that it would ban cold calls about pensions. However, any such ban can ever only be partially effective and there is no indication when ministers will actually bring forward legislation to implement this policy.
To avoid becoming another victim of pension fraud, please take these steps:
- Never engage with people making unsolicited calls or sending unsolicited emails or texts.
- Do not believe people claiming to be from “government backed” bodies or who have “time limited” offers or who promise “amazing deals” or “guaranteed returns”.
- Speak to a trustworthy organisation (such as The Pension Advisory Service or Prospect) before going ahead with any significant transfer of funds.
It’s your hard-earned money, if you are in any doubt – just hang up.