Financial experts believe that at least 64,000 over 55s have been approached by pension liberation scammers since April 2015.
They claim that improved flexible access to pensions has improved the finances of hundreds of thousands of retirement savers – but also opened the door wider for fraudsters.
Research by financial services firm True Potential has disclosed 16% of over 55s believe crooks have tried to hijack their retirement savings.
The survey also points at twice the number of women (20%) approached by scammers than men (10%).
£400 million at risk of fraudsters
The firm did some arithmetic and worked out that 400,000 over 55s were eligible for flexible access this year, and extrapolating the figures, 16% works out as 64,000 people.
The calculations go on to show the over 55s have withdrawn £2.5 billion from their pensions under flexible access, which could have put around £400 million of retirement cash at risk to fraudsters.
The blackspot for pension liberation fraud is Wales, the survey revealed.
Scammers have tried to swindle around a third of Welsh over 55s out of their pension funds.
“It’s a real concern that so many people could unwittingly be fraud victims,” said the firm’s David Harrison.
“Everyone knew that when flexible access came in that scammers would try to target people’s retirement cash, but I don’t think we ever felt so many people could be at risk.”
Guarding against scammers
Harrison explained that those approaching retirement need to guard against possible scammers by checking out the financial advisers that they deal with.
The Pensions Advisory Service, an official government agency, publishes some tips for choosing an IFA.
The tips include how to check out an independent financial adviser’s credentials with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)
The web site also suggests that consumers should look at the IFA’s experience, charges and financial providers to make sure they are a fit with their objectives.
“Finding a suitable financial adviser is not as easy as it sounds,” said a spokesman. “Many have different specialities and you need to locate one that matches your needs and expectations.
“Our site helps people ask the right questions so they can find the right adviser for them.”