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Avoiding pension scams

You may think that it could never happen to you, but anyone can become a victim of a pension scam.

Pension scammers often promise low risk and high returns, but the aim is always to get their hands on your hard-earned savings. Millions in pension savings are lost each year to pension scams and all sizes of pension pots are targeted.

Pension scams are hard to spot because fraudsters often have credible websites and make false claims, such as being government approved, in order to gain your trust. It’s really important, if you are considering a transfer or releasing your pension, that you know the signs to look for to stop a scam in its tracks.

Tips for avoiding a pension scam

The Pensions Regulator offers the following tips to help you avoid falling victim to a pension scam.

Tip 1 - Reject unexpected offers

If you’re contacted out of the blue about a pension opportunity, chances are it’s a scam.

Pension cold calling is illegal, and you should be very wary. An offer of a free pension review from a firm you’ve not dealt with before is probably a scam.

Tip 2 - Check who you're dealing with

Check the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA's) register to make sure anyone offering you advice is authorised. If they are, you can check they’re permitted to give pension advice by calling the FCA Consumer Helpline:

Telephone: 0800 111 6768.

If you don’t use an FCA-authorised firm, you won’t be entitled to compensation if things go wrong. The FCA keeps a record of known scams.

You can search the warning list to check on an investment or pension opportunity you have been offered.

Tip 3 - Don't be rushed or pressured

If you are being pressured to make a quick decision and are being told that this is a ‘once in a lifetime opportunity’, or ‘only available for a limited time’, it is likely a scam.

Take your time to make all the checks you need – even if this means turning down what seems to be an ‘amazing deal’.

Tip 4 - Get impartial information or advice

You should seriously consider seeking financial advice before changing your pension arrangements.

Consider using Money Helper which provides free independent and impartial information and guidance.

Further advice

Further guidance on how to avoid a scam is available from:

What we do to help stop pension scams

Buckinghamshire Pension Fund has taken the Pension Regulator’s Pledge to combat pension scams

We have made a promise that we will:

  • regularly warn our members about pension scams
  • encourage our members to get impartial advice from Money Helper
  • educate ourselves so that we can spot the warning signs of a scam
  • carry out appropriate due diligence checks on pension transfers
  • clearly warn members who insist on a high-risk transfer being paid
  • report concerns about a scam to the appropriate authority

Additionally, when we receive a request to transfer, we are required by law to perform due diligence to check for the possible presence of a pension scam. If we have significant concerns we can prevent the transfer proceeding.

Find out more about transferring to another scheme.