Protect your pension from scams
One of the biggest risks to your pension is scams. Scammers will often claim to be legitimate pensions advisers offering you access to better pension arrangements or more lucrative investments, but their aim is to steal your money. If this happens you will not only have lost 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 them before you are legally allowed.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) have worked with YouGov to survey more than 1,000 pension holders aged between 45 and 65 on how they feel about changing their 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
1. An unexpected call
It’s illegal to contact someone out of the blue about their pension. If you receive an email, phone call or text about your pension, be suspicious. If they are claiming to be from the administrator or someone else you are used to dealing with, we recommend that you hang up and call the organisation back on a number you already have to check the contact is legitimate.
Some phrases that scammers often use are:
- free pension review
- pension liberation
- early pension release
- pension loan
2. If something seems too good to be true...
…then it probably is. Common scam claims are that they can help you access your pension savings early, or invest your money in funds with very high returns. For example:
"… we can use this loophole to help you release your pension early…"
"…our investments have guaranteed high-returns…"
"…we can help you with a pension loan if you need cash before retirement…"
3. A time-limited offer
Scammers will often tell you they are offering you a exclusive time-sensitive deal to try and get you to rush into a decision. Remember, the choices you make with your pension affect your future, so take all the time you need.
If you're planning to transfer your pension, we suggest:
Your transfer checklist
1. Do your own checks
Scammers invest in professional looking literature and websites, but don't let the marketing speak for itself. Do your own checks, for example checking the company is legitimate through the FCA.
2. Find your own independent financial adviser (IFA)
3. Get free help and guidance
MoneyHelper has lots of information about all your finances, including pensions, and ways to find an IFA.
Scottish Widows are always there to help if you need anything. If you've received a communication from Scottish Widows and you want to check it's not a scam, please ring or email Scottish Widows before taking any action. You can contact them using the following details: