14 November 2022

Beware of pension scams over the festive period

The hustle and bustle of Christmas and the busy festive period can provide perfect opportunity for fraudsters to do what they do best – part savers with their money.

For many, the festive season is usually filled with lots of social outings and spending. This grouped with the rising cost of living poses significant risks of being exposed to scammer attacks and potentially falling victim to one.  

So, it is absolutely vital you stay alert throughout the Christmas period as scammers will use every opportunity they get to trick you into parting with your savings by promising early access to your pension.

Research from Pension Scams Industry Group 2021 shows that over 40,000 people have lost a total of over £10 billion in pension scams since 2015, but the figures are probably far higher. A lot of pension crime goes unreported as people don’t like to admit to being duped.

More shocking statistics were released earlier this year. Action Fraud reported a doubling of the average amount lost by pension scam victims in 2021 to £50,000 from around £23,700 in 2020. Average loss to each pension scam victim now is around £75,000 while some individuals have lost millions.

Scammers are only getting smarter so you must stay vigilant. 

So, how can you protect yourself? Here are a few ways to consider…

  • Always reject emails, calls and contact which are out of the blue. Callers may claim they’re from government-backed bodies to trick you into giving them information. Government organisations will never phone or text you.
  • Check who you’re dealing with. If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t and it only takes a few minutes to check. It could cost you your savings if you don’t.
  • Avoid ‘investment deals’, ‘free pension reviews’ and early access to your pension before age 55.
  • Don’t fall for professional-looking websites or brochures.
  • Never feel rushed into making a decision. Take your time to check things over, even if you miss out on a ‘great’ deal.

Anyone can fall victim to a scam. Scammers are often charming, make attractive offers and sound like they have your best interests at heart.

If you’re suspicious, here are three things you can do:

It’s a good idea to discuss your pension with an Independent Financial Adviser (IFA). Before you speak to an IFA, make sure the person or organisation you are speaking to is approved with the FCA.

To find a list of IFAs in your local area visit Unbiased.