Regulators have teamed up with football commentators to further raise awareness of pension scams and encourage savers to show fraudsters ‘the red card’.
The new campaign comes as TPR and the FCA revealed that more than £30m has been lost to pension scams since 2017, according to complaints filed with Action Fraud.
This data shows that scammer have targeted those with small and large pensions, with reported losses ranging from under £1,000 to as much as £50,000. The average victim was male and in his 50s.
With this in mind the latest ScamSmart campaign has enlisted the help of commentator Clive Tyldesley. Evidence from the FCA suggests that 43 per cent of football fans approaching retirement do not know how much is in their pensions, and almost half (45 per cent) do not know how to check if an approach regarding their pension is legitimate.
Tyldesley says: “Scammers are very good at breaking down your defences and putting you under pressure with various deadlines.
“But your pension isn’t a football transfer – there are no deadlines! Your favourite team wouldn’t buy a new striker just because his agent says he’s good. They’d ask around, check out his stats, do some research – just like you should when handling your pension plans. Before you fall foul to savvy scammers, remember to take your time, seek advice, and speak to an FCA-authorised adviser. Don’t agree to anything you’re unsure of.”
Action Fraud says scammers often design attractive offers to persuade people to transfer pensions, often setting ‘time-limited offers’ or deadlines to pressure them into releasing the money.
Fans are also risking an own goal by not knowing the value of their most prized asset. More than three out of four (76 per cent) football fans know the cost of items related to their team, such as a football shirt or season ticket etc. But this research shows only 43 per cent knew how much was currently in their pension pot.
Overconfidence could be an issue with nearly two thirds (65 per cent) saying they’d be confident in spotting a scam approach.
But four out of 10 (39 per cent) would put themselves at risk unknowingly by engaging with a common scam tactic such as being told it’s a time-limited offer, or that there is a guaranteed high return on their savings.
FCA executive director of enforcement and market oversight Mark Steward says: “During these uncertain times, it is more important than ever to defend your lifetime savings from scammers.
“Fraudsters will seek out every opportunity to exploit innocent people, no matter how much or how little you have saved. You can check the status of a firm before changing your pension by visiting the FCA register, and get advice from an FCA authorised firm before making any changes to your pension. And give scammers the boot!”
TPR chief executive Charles Counsell, adds: “Scammers wreck lives and no matter how big or small your savings are, every pot is a target. It may seem tempting to make a change to your pension fund now, but it’s important not to rush. Before making any decision about your pension, take your time, and visit the ScamSmart website to always check who you are dealing with.”
BOX: How fans can stop themselves scoring a pensions own goal
The regulators recommend four simple steps to protect yourself from pension scams:
Don’t be rushed or pressured into making any decision about your pension
Reject unexpected pension offers whether made online, on social media or over the phone
Check who you’re dealing with before changing your pension arrangements – check the Financial Services Register or call the FCA helpline on 0800 111 6768 to see if the firm you are dealing with is authorised by the FCA
Consider getting impartial information and advice
Pension savers can test how ScamSmart they are by taking a quiz on the ScamSmart site. Visit www.fca.org.uk/scamsmart to find out more.