How can you help yourself?

Action Fraud have reported a 400% increase in scams as a result of coronavirus-related fraud with total losses reaching nearly £970,000. It’s more important than ever to ensure the safety of your pension, so if you receive an unsolicited phone call, or any paperwork asking for an immediate signature, it’s likely to be a scam. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

The Pensions Regulator recently announced that savers looking to transfer from a defined benefit (DB) to a defined contribution pension during the coronavirus crisis will be warned it’s unlikely to be in their best long-term interests. 

If you’re considering transferring your benefits, we ask that you do so very carefully. We strongly recommend that you  take regulated advice from an independent financial adviser (which can be found at register.fca.org.uk) and also look at the Pension Wise website for free impartial advice. During the coronavirus outbreak the stock markets have fallen and are likely to remain risky for some time, so it’s worth leaving your money where it is for now. Remember that once you’ve transferred out of a DB pension, you can’t change your mind. 

Here are some top tips to help you protect your overall financial wellbeing during this time:

  • Set up ‘two factor authentication’ – this is to secure your online banking and/or shopping accounts. You would sign into your account using your usual password and then the second stage would send you a specific code to your mobile phone. 
  • Review your credit report - check for any unusual activity. ClearScore is a free and trusted website and has recently installed a ‘Protect’ function that checks if your passwords have been copied. Other credit report websites such as Experian and Credit Karma are also available.
  • Check your email address - see if it has been compromised on haveibeenpwned in any online scams. Simply type your email address in the box and it will tell you if there have been any data security breaches connected to it. 
  • Review your passwords – if you use the same one for multiple accounts, it’s worth changing it. You can download LastPass, a free, safe and secure app to store passwords as well as autogenerate them. Other password managers are available such as Dashlane and Keeper.
  • Strange phone calls - if you receive a call from anywhere asking to confirm any personal bank information, HANG UP! To double check if it was real, it’s worth calling your bank directly using a trusted telephone number from their website. DON’T use a phone number they provide you with. 
  • Money Saving Expert - Martin Lewis has been working hard to provide fact-checked information and his website has the latest information. 
  • Phishing emails – emails with bad spelling, grammar and an urgent tone should be a cause for concern. Don’t click on any of the links included. Just delete the email if it looks suspicious. 
  • Smishing texts – just like emails, scammers can target your mobile phone. Ignore and delete any text messages from numbers you don’t recognise or that contain strange weblinks.