Scammers have contacted nearly every pension saver in the country to try and swindle them out of their savings.
Around 91% of savers have been dogged by phone calls, text messages and emails offering free pension reviews.
The fraudsters are flexible – besides the automated phone calls, 59% of savers were contacted by email and another 53% by text to their phones.
Although not every call, text or email is a scam, says financial provider Aegon, most contact out of the blue are suspect.
Even looking to improve retirement finances online is dangerous, as scammers have set up bogus web sites posing as reputable advisers.
Common ploys of fraudsters
The free review is a common ploy that 28% of savers have had offered during the past three years.
Other ploys include offering high-risk offshore investments in resort hotels, plantations, precious gems and even carbon credits. In every case, the promised profits fail to materialise, and the cash staked against the investments disappears into a fraudster’s offshore bank account.
“The offer of a free pension review can sound harmless, but it’s a method commonly used by scammers to trick people into giving personal and financial information,” warned Kate Smith of Aegon.
“The mention of those three little words should immediately have alarm bells ringing. Unfortunately, many people are taken in and persuaded to share information with fraudsters, which in many cases results in them losing all their pension savings.”
Cold calling ban on the way
Smith explained the government’s plan to ban cold calling next year will block many of the scammers, but she fears many may just relocate overseas to ply their trade.
Until then – and beyond – savers need to keep an eye on who is trying to access their money.
“The intention to ban pension cold calling was first mentioned over two years ago. Every month that passes means more people’s pensions are at risk from scammers, intent on separating people from their lifetime savings,” said Smith.
“A major new awareness campaign on the risk of pension scams has been launched by the regulators. What the government needs to do now is bring in adequate legal protection and ban pension cold calling.”