Pension and investment scams can have a serious impact on your financial health, losing you a lot of money. Falling victim to fraud may affect your wellbeing and leave you feeling anxious, stressed, and worried.
New research from Lottie has found a recent rise in scams targeting the over 55’s. Over the last three months, online searches for those looking for support after falling victim to pension and investment scams has significantly increased:
- 75% increase in online searches on Google for ‘scam help’ and 50% increase for ‘fraud support’
- 24% increase in online searches for ‘pension fraud’
- 22% increase in searches for ‘pension scam’ and ‘investment scam’
Here’s why pension frauds are on the rise, according to Lottie’s Will Donnelly:
“More people than ever before are seeking online support after falling victim to fraud. With more flexibility in managing your pension at retirement, it is no surprise there has been a recent rise in pension and investment scams.
Fraudsters have exploited the uncertainty around the pandemic and the recent rise of living costs to trick people into transferring over their life savings. Many people choose to retire at the end of March because of a lower rate of Income Tax, so there is now more opportunity to fall victim to pension and investment scams.
Anyone can fall victim to a fraud – especially as they are becoming more sophisticated – but the over 55s are most likely to be targeted, according to previous research by Citizens Advice.
Scammers will often try to persuade you to remove some or all money from your pension fund. They may ask you to invest in unusual, high-risk investments, including overseas property. Or they may contact you out-of-the-blue for a free pension review, promising advances on your pension pot.
Thankfully, there are ways to reduce your risk of falling victim to fraud and we must raise awareness about staying savvy to scams.”
Five simple tricks to lower your risk of pension fraud:
Frauds are becoming even more sophisticated, so it is important to stay clued up on the warning signs of pension and investment scams. They can lead you to losing a lifetime’s worth of savings in one moment, so you must stay cautious.
- Watch out for warning signs
Scammers will often contact you unexpectedly, whether that is via a phone call, text message or email. Remember – since January 2019, there has been a ban on cold-calling about pensions. So, if you do get contacted and offered a free pension review or investment opportunity, it is likely that it is a scam.
Simply hang up or ignore any unsolicited text messages promising you more money.
- Seek financial guidance first
If you are keen to review your pension, there are ways to receive free, impartial advice, including Money Helper’s Pension Wise service. Before changing any of your pension arrangements, seek out impartial financial advice from a reputable source, first.
Take the time to check any investment opportunities before transferring over any money. Make sure that whoever you are dealing with is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and they are authorised to provide you with financial advice.
- Keep up to date with the latest scams
It is no surprise that fraudsters are becoming even more sophisticated. An important part of reducing your risk of falling victim to fraud is staying clued up on the latest scams. Age UK provide information on the latest scams – including fake Ukraine fundraisers and fake energy refund emails.
- Speak to your loved ones
If you have fallen victim to fraud, do not suffer in silence. Anyone can be susceptible to scams, especially as they are becoming more sophisticated. Even the most careful people can be caught out.
Make sure you speak to your friends and family, as it can feel a huge relief to open up about how you’ve feeling. They can support you in reporting the fraud and help you cope with any stress, anxiety or worry you are experiencing.
- Report a scam
Most importantly, do not feel embarrassed about reporting fraud. There are organisations that can support you and you will help them track down the fraudsters. Contact the police via 101 immediately if you feel threatened or if you have transferred money to the scammer in the last 24 hours.
You can also report fraud to the Citizens Advice service – make sure you note down all details about the scam, including whether you have transferred any money, who you have been in contact with and the type of information you have shared.