Pension scams

A pension scam is the transfer of your pension to an arrangement which may not be acting in your best interest. 

Scammers know that you can access your savings in many ways and will try to lure you with promises of cash up front, one-off deals with guaranteed returns or access to your pension savings before age 55. Accessing your pension before age 55 is only possible in rare cases such as ill-health and doing so otherwise is fraudulent.

Those targeted are usually misled as to the consequences of their actions, such as serious tax charges and penalties that may be more than half of your pension savings, high charges for entering the new scheme and high-risk investments for the savings they receive.

Protect yourself against pension scams

The Pensions Regulator has provided 10 steps to protect your pension:

Be wary of cold calls and unsolicited texts and emails

Scammers will often claim they're from Pension Wise or other government-backed bodies. It’s now illegal for even legitimate companies to cold call people to sell pension products, so if you do receive a call, it’s likely to be a scam and you shouldn’t continue the conversation.

Check everything for yourself

People have fallen for scams because they'd been 'recommended by a friend'. Do your homework, even if you consider yourself to be financially savvy - false confidence can lead to getting stung.

Make sure your adviser is on the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) approved register

Pension scammers may pose as financial advisers. Check to make sure yours is registered on the FCA website.

Check the FCA's list of known scams

Visit the FCA's Scamsmart to see if the deal you're being offered is a known scam.

Steer clear of the overseas investment deals

Well-known scam types include unregulated investments in a hotel, vineyard or other overseas opportunities, where your money is all in one place and therefore more at risk.

Don't fall for 'guaranteed' returns or professional looking websites or brochures

You can never guarantee returns on an investment, and anyone can create a smart website or brochure these days. Question everything, however credible it sounds or looks.

Don't be rushed into a decision

Scammers will try to pressure you with 'time limited offers' or send a courier to your door to wait while you sign documents. Take your time to make all the checks you need - even if this means turning down an 'amazing' deal.

If you're aged 50 or over and have a DC pension, talk to Pension Wise

Pension Wise is there to help you investigate your retirement options. Visit Pension Wise for more information (and to check what kind of pension you have).

Ask The Pensions Advisory Service for help if you have doubts

You can call them on 0300 123 1047 or visit the TPAS website for free pensions advice and information.

Contact your provider and call Action Fraud if you've already signed and think you've been scammed

If you've already signed something you're now unsure about, call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 and contact your pension provider immediately. They may be able to stop a transfer that hasn't taken place yet.