According to a recent survey undertaken by the Financial Conduct Authority, as many as one in four people in the UK have been targeted by pension or investment scammers in the last 12 months.
An unsolicited approach is often a sign that the offer being made is nothing more than a scam which could result in the unfortunate victim losing their savings or becoming liable for significant additional tax charges.
For example, the Pensions Regulator (tPR) has received two reports of fraudsters calling individuals and claiming to work for the Regulator. The callers offered a “free pension review” in an attempt to obtain details from the individuals about their pension savings.
TPR has confirmed that it never cold-calls individuals about their pensions. Head of intelligence for the tPR, Mike Broomfield confirmed "Like all reputable organisations, we never cold-call people about their pensions. If anyone cold-calls you about your pension, it is an attempt to steal your savings - just hang up."
According to the FCA’s survey, the percentage of individuals contacted via unsolicited methods varied across the regions of the UK. Those in London and the South East were most likely to have been approached. However, even areas which reported the lowest figures, such as Yorkshire and Eastern Scotland, still showed as many as 14% of individuals had received unsolicited emails, calls or letters.
In May, the bill including provisions for a ban on pensions cold-calling received Royal Assent. However, the implementation of the ban has been delayed while the Treasury consults further on "technicalities" in relation to the ban.
In response to the continued increase in the activity of pension and investment scammers, Financial Fraud Action UK (FFA) in conjunction with HM Government launched a campaign called ‘Take Five – To Stop Fraud’. This is a national campaign offering straight-forward and impartial advice to help individuals protect themselves against financial fraud. A website www.takefive-stopfraud.org.uk has been set up which contains useful tips, guidance, information and videos designed to help individuals stay safe.