Pensions cold call ban – time to send a clear message

The government have announced that the implementation of the Pensions cold call ban will be delayed until autumn this year.

Jonathan Watts-Lay, Director, WEALTH at work, comments; “It’s time to send a clear message to pension scammers that this will not be tolerated, so the sooner this ban is implemented the better. However once the ban is in place, employees will still need to be alert as it’s not going to stop all fraudsters.

Those who are approaching retirement are an attractive target as they have access to potentially large amounts of money which is why we are urging employers to help employees understand the dangers by raising awareness of this issue.”

To help with this, WEALTH at work has shared its top tips on how employees can avoid losing their pension to scams and fraudsters:

  • Scams don’t look like scams – Scams look and sound legitimate by having very professional looking websites and literature which is why employees can easily be deceived. Whichever option employees take for their pension income, they must check before committing to anything that the company is registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
  • If it’s too good to be true, it probably is – If an investment offers the opportunity of a lifetime, it’s likely to be a scam and there is little that can be done for employees who fall for it.
  • Scammers will do their homework – Legitimate investment companies are very unlikely to cold call. Those who run pension scams are clever and may have been able to get hold of an employee’s personal details; not just about them, but their local area and interests. Employees need to be aware so as to not let scammers’ knowledge and friendliness take them off guard and allow them to be conned.
  • The right decision takes time – Genuine advisers will never rush individuals to make a decision. Anything that is advertised as a limited time offer is likely to be a scam. Always check with the FCA.
  • Know the basic facts first – Pensions can normally only be accessed at the age of 55, with the exception of seriously ill health. In normal circumstances, if a company promises to release pensions early they are lying, and it is a scam. Employees must know the facts to avoid fraudsters.
  • Know where to go for help – Employees must know where they can go if they are unsure about anything they have been offered. This is usually their employer if it relates to their workplace pension, or The Pensions Advisory Service (TPAS) or Pension Wise for any other kind of pension.
  • Protecting privacy – Scammers will use technology and try to contact individuals through various means such as social media, texts, telephone calls and emails. If employees are in doubt, they should ignore it and hang up the phone or delete the message. Phone companies should be able to help by blocking any offending numbers and email providers with blocking emails from specific senders. Employees should beware of what they share through social media and check their privacy settings are as secure as possible.
  • Help stop the scams – If an employee thinks they have been or are being scammed, they should contact TPAS immediately. Not only may they be able to help the employee involved, but they will be able to help others from falling for the same scam.

Watts-Lay comments; “The crucial thing to remember is that scams don’t look like scams. In our financial education seminars we show adverts from organisations that are ‘too good to be true’ to prove how hard they can be to spot. The rule is, whatever investment employees are planning to make, they should check out the company with the FCA first. If the FCA hasn’t heard of them, employees will have no place to go if they turn out to be fraudsters.”

He continues, “Employees need to understand that taking regulated advice and getting the additional consumer protection it offers should not be underestimated”.

For more details, visit the FCA’s ScamSmart website which includes a warning list of companies operating without authorisation or running scams