If you are considering investing your government pension with a company, you should be aware of potential scammers and what you can do to avoid them.
Scammers design attractive offers in order to persuade you to to transfer your pension pot or release funds to them. They can be articulate and financially knowledgeable, with creditable websites, testimonials and materials which can make it hard to distinguish from the real thing.
Scammers will offer amazing sounding deals but these can result in you losing your entire pension and may also leave you with a huge tax bill. Offers which you should be aware of, often include:
- offering free pension reviews
- offering to invest in unusual and high-risk investments like overseas property, renewable energy bonds, forestry, storage units, or simply stolen outright
- offering higher returns - guarantees they can get you better returns on your pension savings
- offering to help release cash from your pension, even though you're under 55
- using high pressure sales tactics- time limited offers or even sending couriers to your door to wait whilst you sign paperwork
- complicated structures where it isn't clear where your money will end up
- long term pension investment - which mean it could be several years before you realise that something is wrong.
Scanner usually contact people directly via phone, email and text but can also advertise online. In order to appear legitimate they will often make false claims, such as:
- claiming they are authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) or that they don't have to be FCA authorised because they aren't providing the advise themselves
- claiming to be acting on behalf of the FCA or the government service Pension Wise
There are steps you can follow to help protect your pension from scammers:
Reject unexpected offers
If you are contacted out of the blue about a pension opportunity, chances are its high risk or a scam. You should:
- ignore all cold calls about your pensions and any unsolicited offers via email and text
- be wary of offers of free pension reviews, professional and legitimate advice on pensions is not free
- be wary of advice from someone you know as they could be getting scammed themselves.
Check who your dealing with
If you don't use an FCA authorised firm, you won't have access to the Financial Ombudsman Service or Financial Services Compensation Scheme , so you are unlikely to get your money back if things do go wrong. You should:
- check if the company are FCA registered
- even if the firm is registered, call the FCA consumer helpline on 0800 111 6768 to check that the firm is permitted to give pension advice
- always use the companies contact details listed on the FCA register, not the details the firm gives you. Cloning is a common scam where scammers will pretend to be a genuine FCA authorised firm.
Don't be rushed or pressured
Take the time to make all the checks you need - even if this means turning down an 'amazing deal'. Be wary of promised returns and don't be rushed or pressured into making a decision.
Get impartial information and advice
You should seriously consider seeking financial guidance from legitimate agencies before changing your pension arrangements. Legitimate agencies include:
- The Pensions Advisory Service - they provide free and impartial information and guidance
- Pension Wise - If you're over 50 and have a defined contribution (personal) pension, this government agency can offer pre-booked appointments to talk you through your retirement options
- The Pensions Advisory Service -provides impartial advise for members of defined benefit pension schemes (local government, teachers etc)
- FCA regulated financial advisors - if you opt for an advisor ensure that they are regulated by the FCA.
If you suspect a scam you should report it to the FCA by contacting the consumer helpline on: 0800 111 6768 or by using an FCA reporting form . You should also report it to Action Fruad Police on 0300 123 2040.
If you have already agreed to transfer your pension and now suspect a scam, contact your pension provider straight away, they may be able to stop a transfer that hasn't taken place yet.
Information and guidance can also be found at:
- FCA online
- view the FCA Scam Smart Video
- The pensions Advisory Service can also help if you think you have accepted a pension scam by calling: 0800 011 3797
If you have a query regarding you Dumfries and Galloway Council pension you can contact:
Dumfries and Galloway Council
Call: 01387 273855