Older people increasingly caught by pension scams | moneyfacts.co.uk
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Published: 24/07/2017
  • The pension freedoms that were launched in April 2015 have given retirees far more choice in how they spend their pension pot, yet it's also opened the floodgates for pension scammers – retirees are now free to spend their hard-earned savings as they see fit, and unscrupulous individuals are targeting that cash.

Research from Age UK has highlighted this worrying trend, and is warning that older people are particularly at risk of being victims. Their research found that over two-fifths of respondents have been a target of pension scams, and even more concerning is the fact that just over a tenth of older people have responded to them, many of whom have lost money in the process.

Risk factors

The research found that single people and those aged over 75 are at greatest risk of responding to pension scams, with over a quarter of single respondents having done so, compared with the average of just over one in 10. Furthermore, 16% of single people had given over money and a fifth also gave their personal details, compared with 6% and 2% respectively of married people.

People over the age of 75 were also more inclined to give scammers their personal or financial information, highlighting that age is a big risk factor when it comes to scams. Yet few admit to being victims: more than a fifth of those who had been targeted didn't tell anyone as they felt too embarrassed, and even among those who admitted being scammed, most only told their friend and family instead of someone official.

Top tips

This means a large proportion of pension scams could be going unreported, and it's something that Age UK wants to change. That's why they've come up with these top tips to help people avoid pension scams, in line with Scams Awareness Month, and highlight ways to help if you've been targeted:

  • Don't rush into anything. If you've been cold-called with a deal that seems too good to be true, it probably is. Don't agree to anything immediately, but instead speak to family and friends or call an impartial advice agency, such as the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 04 05 06.

  • Check that the company is reputable. This means you'll want to thoroughly research the seller, including checking its contact number and postal address and that it's a member of a trade association. Remember that all financial companies must be authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority – check online or call 0800 111 6768.

  • Check their identity. If someone arrives on your doorstep to sell something, ask for an identity card and check it – call the company if necessary to confirm. If they seem suspicious or won't leave, call the police.

  • Be vigilant against scams. Ignore all unsolicited invitations (including letters, phone calls and emails) that offer an investment opportunity or say you've won a lottery. Be cautious of anyone who claims to know about loopholes to the pension freedom rules, too, particularly if they talk about overseas investments or ways to get your money before the age of 55.

  • Report it. If you've been targeted, don't feel too embarrassed to report it, even if you handed over money – contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 to report it and get help, and you may be able to prevent it happening to someone else, too.

Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.

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