Citizens Advice Scotland has today warned that scammers are actively targeting people with pension savings across Scotland, looking to con them out of their hard-earned savings.
Most commonly ‘cold-calling’ potential victims, the scammers offer free pension reviews, promises of better returns and early cash release from your pension as a hook. Their main objective is to persuade savers to transfer their pension funds into unregulated investment schemes that often involve huge fees and tax penalties. In other cases they simply disappear with the cash leaving the victim with nothing.
In a recent example, one victim was pressured into signing documents to transfer his lifetime pension savings of over £100,000 from his company pension scheme into an unregulated, off-shore property development scheme. It was only the intervention of a local PensionWise Guidance Specialist that halted the transfer after it was found that the scheme was part of a scam already under investigation by The Pensions Regulator.
Citizens Advice Scotland’s PensionWise manager Angela Spalding says:
“We have now had a number of instances of these scams reported to us, so it’s important to make people aware of the risk. Cold-callers are phoning individuals across Scotland, hoping to engage with pension savers. These callers are very persuasive, suggesting that they are experts doing you a ‘good turn’ and offering free reviews and early access to your pension cash. In fact, many of these people are not registered with the Financial Conduct Authority and they are often promoting the most high-risk, unregulated schemes on the market, often with overseas investments unsuitable for most savers.
“The best thing to do with cold-callers is to put the phone down. If you want to review your retirement plans or access your savings, why would you do it through someone you don’t know who has randomly called you? You can get expert, impartial guidance through the Pension Wise service at your local Citizens Advice Bureau. Like all CAB services, our pension guidance is free, confidential and independent. Face-to-face appointments are available to those approaching 50 or over.
“If you believe that you are a victim of a scammer or wish to report a potential scam, you can contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040. It’s important to report these calls when they do happen because the authorities may be able to prevent them potentially conning someone else.”
Anyone aged close to 50 or over with a defined contribution pension scheme is eligible for a Pension Wise appointment. Contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau to arrange a face-to-face appointment, or call our Pension Wise telephone line - 0300 330 1001, or visit www.pensionwise.gov.uk.