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Can you spot the signs of a scam?

Scammers are targeting pension pots of all sizes – make sure you know how to spot the signs.

Pension scammers are targeting people like you with the average victim losing £91,000.

Scams are hard to spot and are often disguised with credible websites, testimonials and materials which make them look like the real thing.

Vodafone will always work to keep your pension safe and will provide you with the most up to date advice on how you can protect yourself from scams. Below are the latest warning signs to look out for and what to do if you think you have fallen victim to a pension scam.

  1. How have they contacted you?

    A legitimate company would never contact you out of the blue to either offer a pension review or to sell you a pensions opportunity.

    Cold calling to sell pension products has also been illegal since January 2019. If any company contacts you offering such a review, politely hang up.

  2. Be wary of certain investments

    There are some investment types which aren’t regulated under UK law and scammers will entice you into these types of offerings so your money can’t be traced. These types of investments include overseas property and hotels, renewable energy bonds, forestry, parking, and storage units. Look at the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) unregulated investment products list to find a full list of investments which aren’t regulated by them.

    You should also be wary of companies which promise high returns on your investments. High returns are typically seen as 8% a year or more.

  3. Pressure selling

    The quickest way for a scammer to get your money is to pressure you into signing paperwork quickly and without giving you time to sit and think about the options provided to you. A scammer could send paperwork to you via a courier who won’t leave until you sign the paperwork, or by telling you about a “once in a lifetime” or “limited time” opportunity. Always take the time to read through any paperwork provided and ask any questions if you are unsure.

    Remember, as a member of THUS, you must obtain independent financial advice on any transfer over the value of £30,000. If you need help with finding a financial adviser in your area, visit unbiased.co.uk.

    Consider using The Pensions Advisory Service which provides free independent and impartial information and guidance.

  4. Legal loopholes

    Another big tactic that scammers will use is to tell you they’ve found a “legal loophole” to allow you to access funds before you are 55. Currently, under UK law, you cannot access any of your pension savings before age 55 unless you are in serious ill health without facing serious tax consequences. Even in these financially uncertain times, when money may be tighter than ever, don’t be tempted by these tactics. You may put your financial future at risk.

How ScamSmart are you?

You can test your knowledge on the warning signs of pension scams by taking the FCA’s ScamSmart quiz.

ScamSmart Quiz Banner

How can you protect yourself?

Almost all financial services firms must be authorised by the FCA – if they’re not, it’s probably a scam.

Check the Financial Services Register to see if a firm or individual is authorised or registered with the FCA.

Always access the Register from their website, rather than through links in emails or on the website of a firm offering you an investment.

Check if the firm’s Firm Reference Number and contact details are the same as on the FCA Register.

If there are no contact details on the Register or if the firm claims they’re out of date, call the FCA’s Consumer Helpline on 0800 111 6768.

If you’re dealing with an overseas firm, you should check with the regulator in that country and also check the scam warnings from foreign regulators.

If you’re suspicious, report it

You can report the firm or scam to the FCA on 0800 111 6768 or by using their reporting form.

If you’ve given your bank account details to a firm you think may be operating a scam, tell your bank immediately. If you've agreed to transfer your pension and now suspect a scam, contact Aon straight away. They may be able to stop a transfer that hasn't taken place yet. If a transfer has already taken place, it is highly unlikely that you will be able to get your money back and you may never see it again.

Be wary of future scams

If you’ve already invested in a scam, fraudsters are likely to target you again or sell your details to other criminals. The follow-up scam may be completely separate or related to the previous fraud, such as an offer to get your money back or to buy back the investment after you pay a fee.

Be ScamSmart with your pension. To find out more, visit fca.org.uk/scamsmart