Protect your pension from scams

 

One of the biggest risks to the safety of your pension is scams. Scammers will often pretend to be legitimate pensions advisers that can offer you access to better pension arrangements, and their aim is to get you to transfer your money to them. If you do so you’re not only at risk of losing your savings, but because they will no longer be in an HMRC-registered pension arrangement, you could also face a large tax bill for taking your pension savings before you are legally allowed.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) have conducted a poll with YouGov where they surveyed over 1,000 pension holders aged between 45 and 65 to find out their attitudes towards changing pension arrangements. Three points that came out were:

 

If you think you may be the victim of a scam, contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 (Monday to Friday 8am - 8pm), or +44 300 123 2040 if you are calling from overseas.

Three warning signs of a scam

It’s illegal for someone to call you out of the blue about your pension. If you receive a phone call, email or text about your pension, be on your guard. Do not be afraid to hang up.

Some phrases that should ring alarm bells are:

  • free pension review
  • pension liberation
  • early pension release
  • pension loan

…then it probably is. Scammers will tell you they have investments that can’t fail, or a special way of getting you access to your money. For example:

"… we have a loophole that lets you release your pension early…"

"…you’ll have access to guaranteed high-return investments…"

"…if you need cash we can help you with a pension loan…"

Scammers will often try to rush you into a decision by claiming they are offering a time-sensitive deal. Any decision you make about your pension is an important one, so take all the time you need.

If you've decided you'd like to transfer your pension, here's some things you should do:

Your transfer checklist

Scammers will often have professional looking websites and literature, so it is important to do your own checks. Check the company you are dealing with is legitimate with the FCA.

Scammers will often pose as IFAs, or offer to refer you to an IFA they know. You can check IFAs on the FCA register. We’d recommend you find your own IFA to support you when you need help with your pension. Find an IFA on MoneyHelper.

MoneyHelper includes lots of guidance about all your finances, including pensions, and ways to find an IFA.

The FCA’s ScamSmart site allows you to check any pension or investment opportunity you’ve been offered to see if it’s a known scam. You can also find more warning signs here.

XPS, the Scheme administrator, is always there to help if you need anything. If you want to check a Scheme communication you’ve received is genuine, please ring or email XPS before taking any action.

What is the Trustee doing to help protect your pension

The threat of pension scams has increased over the last few years. The Trustee of the Audit Commission Pension Scheme wants to ensure it does all it can to help you protect your pension benefits from the threat of scams, and so has signed up to XPS Administration’s Scam Protection Service.

How the Scam Protection Service works
If you ask to transfer your benefits out of the Scheme, XPS will contact you and ask you some questions to help identify whether you are at risk of becoming the victim of a pension scam. This adds an extra layer of protection for you as a member. The Scheme pays the cost of this service.

The law now also requires the Trustee to look at two conditions:

  • Is the receiving scheme a safe place to transfer?
  • Are there any specific warning signs of a pension scam?

The Trustee is doing this with the support of the Scam Protection Service. It’s possible that this may delay your transfer, but where certain pension scam warning signs are identified the law requires you to speak to MoneyHelper before your transfer can be paid.