Pension scams: a lifetime's savings lost in a moment

24 July 2014


The Pensions Regulator has launched a new campaign to warn people of the dangers of being enticed into

· trying to access their pension pot as a lump sum or loan before age 55, or

· moving their retirement savings into unregulated high-risk or bogus investments.

Arrests have been made, and websites have been closed down, but it is clear that more needs to be done to discourage often vulnerable people from following some very dangerous advice.

The Regulator’s press release mentions that “the Victims of pension scams have warned of the devastating impact of losing thousands of pounds in retirement savings”. It notes that “the known amount of funds paid into pension scams now stands at £495m in total. However, it is suspected that this amount is likely to be substantially higher and not all activity is reported.”

As part of the new awareness drive, The Pensions Regulator has refreshed its ‘Scorpion’ campaign material to reinforce the message to consumers not to be ‘stung’ by cold calls, text message spam or website offers claiming to be able to help them cash in their pension. The regulator is urging pension trustees and providers to include the leaflet in the next annual statement sent to members, and anyone who requests a transfer in the meantime.

Pensions minister Steve Webb has warned: "Although quick-fix pension release schemes may seem tempting, particularly when times are tough, people should make sure they understand all the implications before they sign on the dotted line. A joint industry and Government operation is working to stamp out these unethical, exploitative, poor value offers - but I would urge anyone who is approached to think carefully, consider seeking advice and, if in doubt, steer clear.”

The new campaign is being led by the Department for Work and Pensions, The Pensions Regulator, The Pensions Advisory Service, Money Advice Service, Financial Conduct Authority, Serious Fraud Office, HMRC, Action Fraud, National Crime Agency and City of London Police.

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