Money for Nothing when Nothing is what you end up with

Now look at them yo-yo’s that’s the way you do it

You play the guitar on the M.T.V.

Money for Nothing. Dire Straits

Many people with decisions to make about investing money for pensions encounter opportunities far less daunting than playing the guitar on MTV which apparently offer money for nothing.  The sensible way to approach them is to ask, ‘Are they too good to be true?’

A new report from Citizens Advice (called ‘Too Good to be True’) indicates a mismatch between people’s confidence in being able to spot a scam and their ability to do so. The report is based on an online poll of 2,006 GB adults carried out in February 2016.  While three out of four people who took part in the poll were confident they could identify a pension scam just 12% did so successfully.  The new research highlights how scammers’ tactics are shifting away from pension liberation schemes offering high rewards and moving towards free pension reviews and advice as a first step towards tricking people out of their pension pots.

A 59 year old man sought help from Citizens Advice after a near miss with a pension scam. He was cold called by a company offering a ‘free pension review’ which recommended he invested his retirement savings in Hong Kong. After he was offered an appointment the next day he grew suspicious when documents were couriered to his home.  With help from Citizens Advice he has been able to stop the company from contacting him again

The report also suggests that as many as 10.9 million consumers may have received unsolicited contact about their pension in the last year.  Almost two thirds of consumers polled said they would consider an unsolicited pension related approach.

Top tips for identifying a pension scam

  1. Ignore any approaches you have not asked for – whether they come via email, in the post, on the phone or in person at your front door.
  2. Beware of any promotion offering you more than 8% returns on your pension investment.
  3. Don’t be fooled by professional looking websites or literature
  4. Treat any offer to access your pension before you reach 55 with caution. As well as losing your savings in a scam you could be landed with a 55% tax bill.
  5. Don’t be pressurized into making a decision about your pension.  Take your time and think about the implications carefully
  6. Avoid extravagant investments based overseas
  7. Check the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) online register to make sure the company approaching you is legitimate. Anyone giving financial advice should be registered.
  8. Check the FCA ScamSmart warning list for known investment scams.
  9. If you are transferring a pension, ask your current pension provider to check the HMRC registration of the new scheme to check that it is legitimate.

If you are over 50, Pension Wise guidance can equip you to recognise scams.  You can book a telephone or face to face Pension Wise appointment by calling 0300 330 1001 between 8am and 10pm, every day.  The nearest advice centres offering face to face appointments are in Aldershot and Farnborough.

You can also get help from your local CAB if you want to avoid being scammed or need information and advice on Benefits, Work, Debt and Money, Consumer Issues, Relationships, Housing, Law and Rights, Education, Discrimination, Tax and Healthcare.  You can:

–                call 0344 848 7969 to speak to an assessor or make an appointment to talk to an adviser face-to face. (calls to this service cost the same as calling 01 and 02 numbers included as part of a mobile allowance or a landline call package).

–                visit to access our comprehensive range of information and advice,

–                or follow us on Twitter @Waverley CAB

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