Spotting a pension scam

27 September 2018
Don’t let a scammer enjoy you or your employee’s retirement savings. We have a look at how to spot the signs of a pension scam, how to protect against being scammed, and what to do if you think you've been targeted.

It’s good to remember that pension scams can come in lots of forms and usually they’ll appear to be a legitimate investment opportunity. Scammers target anyone and usually do it out of the blue via phone, email or text, or even advertise online. Or they may be introduced to you by a friend or family member who is also unknowingly being scammed.

Common tell-tale signs of a pension scam often include:

  • being contacted out of the blue about your pension savings
  • when a firm doesn’t allow you to call them back
  • promises of high or guaranteed returns
  • free pension review offers
  • being told you can access your pension before age 55
  • high pressure sales tactics and being felt pressurised to act quickly
  • complicated structures where it isn’t clear where your money will end up

It’s also important to beware of copycat websites – some websites can look like legitimate government service websites but aren’t. You can normally tell if a site is official if it ends in “.gov.uk” and it has the department, agency or authentic logo.

To avoid being caught out by a pension scam:

  • Reject any unsolicited calls, emails or text messages about your pension and be wary of free pension review offers. Legitimate companies will not contact you out of the blue.
  • Check the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) register of regulated companies to make sure that anyone who is offering you advice or any other financial services is FCA – authorised.
  • Don’t feel rushed or pressurised to make a decision or to do the checks on the organisation that you need, even if this means turning down an ‘amazing deal’.
  • If you’re thinking about a retirement savings opportunity, it would be a good idea to get financial advice from an FCA regulated firm.  The Pensions Advisory Service provides free, independent and impartial information and guidance. You can find financial advisers in your area by visiting unbiased.co.uk. Advisers may charge for their services – though should agree any fees with you upfront.

More information to help your employees

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and The Pensions Regulator (TPR) have launched a campaign warning people about pension scams called ScamSmart.  As well as their TV adverts they have produced a poster and leaflet which you can use to help your employees stay alert to pension scams.

You could let you employees know about the Warning List Widget created by the FCA. The tool lets your employees check an investment or pension opportunity and avoid scams.

Your employees can use the Financial Services Register that shows details of firms, individuals and other organisations that are, or have been, regulated by the Prudential Regulation Authority and/or the FCA.


 How to report a scam

If you think you’ve been the victim of a pension scam, you should report it as soon as possible.

  • Report to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) by contacting their helpline on 0800 111 6768.
  • Report to Action Fraud by contacting them on 0300 123 2040 or use their online reporting tool.
  • Contact the Pensions Advisory Service on 0800 011 3797 if you’ve been unexpectedly contacted by someone about your pension or are in the middle of a transfer.

The Royal London Mutual Insurance Society Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Registered in England and Wales number 99064. Registered office: 55 Gracechurch Street, London EC3V 0RL.