About pension scams

There are different types of pension scams but often a scammer will try and persuade you to invest your money in high risk non-standard, or overseas, investments where you could lose all your pension savings. These investments could be difficult to access when you want to take your money, or may have high charges that could reduce the value of your pension over time.

If you are under the age of 55 they may try and persuade you to transfer your pension to a scheme that will make these investments for you, or even offer you a loan, or early access to your pension, or a cash payment as an incentive to make a transfer.

How can I spot a scam?

Common warning signs of a pension scam are:

  • You may be cold called out of the blue, receive a text message or someone may even come to your door offering you a ‘free pension review’. This type of unsolicited contact about pensions is illegal in the UK.
  • You may receive an email that claims to be from a legitimate company, but the email address doesn’t look quite right. For example: customer.services.reassure@hotmail.co.uk.
  • Cold callers may claim they are ringing on behalf of the government.
  • You may be offered a one off investment opportunity, which may have guaranteed returns of over 8%.
  • A courier may come to your house and get you to sign paperwork to move things quickly.
  • You may be encouraged to move your pension overseas.
  • You could be promised access to your pension, a loan or cash sum even though you are under 55.
  • The adviser who contacts you may claim to be authorised but is not registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

Please read this leaflet from The Pensions Regulator for more information.

What should I do?

The safest thing to do is hang up the phone, don’t reply to the text message or email, or click on any links. You can report anything you think might be a scam to Action Fraud. You can also forward emails to the Suspicious Email Reporting Service at report@phishing.gov.uk.

Above all, before parting with your money you should stop and take a moment to pause, challenge any suspicious motives and protect yourself by staying vigilant.

Remember: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

Remember these tips to protect your money:

  • Think about what you are doing.  Never be rushed into making a decision.
  • Before you agree to anything, make sure the adviser involved is approved by the FCA.
  • If you have received an offer and are suspicious, report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.

You should also be aware that if you buy an investment product from a firm that is not authorised by the FCA, you will not have access to the Financial Ombudsman Service or Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) if things go wrong.  This may put your life savings at risk.

What is ReAssure doing to protect customers’ money?

ReAssure is required by law to make additional checks on any transfer that is not to an authorised master trust, a public service pension scheme, or an authorised collective defined contribution (CDC) scheme. To meet our legal obligations and protect the best interests of our customers we may ask to see additional evidence to check for the warning signs of a scam.

The law also requires ReAssure to ask for specific evidence when a transfer is requested to an occupational pension (that isn’t a master trust, public service pension scheme, or CDC scheme) or a qualifying recognised overseas pension scheme (QROPS) to check that you have an employment or residency link with the scheme you’ve asked to transfer to.

If we find warnings signs of a scam, you may have to take pension safeguarding guidance from MoneyHelper before we can transfer your policy. If we find any high risk warning signs, we won’t transfer your pension to help protect you from pension fraud.

This doesn’t mean you can’t transfer your pension to another pension scheme that is registered with HMRC where we don’t have the same concerns about pension activity. If you’d like to arrange this please contact us.

Where can I go to find out more information?

There are lots of places online you can go to find out more:

FCA: Check the Financial Conduct Authority Scam Smart website for further information: scamsmart.fca.org.uk

Also check the FCA register of companies authorised to advise you: register.fca.org.uk

TPR: The Pensions Regulator has a very good website, including information leaflets: www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk

MoneyHelper: MoneyHelper has a good website with lots of useful information and offers free guidance you can contact them at: 0800 011 3797 or www.moneyhelper.org.uk

Pension Wise: If you are over 55 then speak to Pension Wise from MoneyHelper, they offer free and impartial guidance on your pension options: 0800 138 3944 or www.moneyhelper.org.uk/pensionwise