Important information: The value of investments and the income from them can go down as well as up, so you may get back less than you invest. Before transferring a pension, compare all the benefits, charges and features and always seek advice if you are unsure.

SIX years. That’s the total prison sentence that two crooked financial advisers recently received for conning more than £22m from over 250 pension holders - each victim losing between £10,000 and £200,000.1

This wasn’t any old rookie Ponzi scheme. This was a sophisticated and credible operation, that left many of its victims with no pensions and needing to work well beyond their retirement date. It’s also every investor’s nightmare.

Are pension scams on the rise?

While official data for 2022 is a little thin on the ground, Action Fraud reported there was an increase in pension fraud in the first three months of 2021 with 107 individual accounts reported. This was an increase of almost 45% when compared to the same period in 2020.

But while official data might be lacking, some useful research from Lottie - a search and compare site for care homes and retirement communities - has shown that online searches for those looking for support after falling victim to pension and investment scams has significantly increased.

From January to March 2022, there was a 75% increase in online searches on Google for ‘scam help’, a 50% increase for ‘fraud support’, a 24% increase in online searches for ‘pension fraud’ and a 22% increase in searches for ‘pension scam’ and ‘investment scam.’

What makes pensioners an easy target?

The introduction of Pension Freedoms legislation in 2015 could well have contributed to the rise in pensions scams, as people have more flexibility in managing their pensions. Undoubtedly the uncertainty linked to the pandemic will have contributed. As will the recent cost of living crisis. Why?

Desperate times, often call for desperate measures. And fraudsters prey on the vulnerable. With inflation now at 9.4% it’s easy to see how tempting fraudsters’ claims can be as people struggle to keep up with spiralling prices and the cost-of-living crisis.

Protect yourself against pension fraud

You know what they say… if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Never act in the moment. Stop. Think. Do your research. Certain phrases should raise red flags, such as ‘free pension review’, ‘pension liberation’, ‘higher than usual returns’, ‘release cash from your pension early’ (if you’re under 55), ‘loophole’, ‘savings advance’ and ‘one-off-investment.’

Here are three practical steps you can take to protect yourself.

1. Knowledge is your best defence - visit our dedicated pension fraud section on our website. It’s full of useful tips and contact details. If you invest with us, you can also find out what we’re doing to keep you safe online and how you can protect yourself.

2. Think about bringing your pensions together - it’s hard to keep track of your pensions if they’re dotted all over the place. You can find out more about transferring your pensions here.

3. Consider financial advice - talk to a financial adviser to find out if a personal recommendation is for you. We also have specialist advisers for retirement.

Source:

1 Financial Times - 18 July 2022

Important information: Investors should note that the views expressed may no longer be current and may have already been acted upon. Tax treatment depends on individual circumstances and all tax rules may change in the future. Withdrawals from a pension product will not be possible until you reach age 55. It’s important to understand that pension transfers are a complex area and may not be suitable for everyone. Before going ahead with a pension transfer, we strongly recommend that you undertake a full comparison of the benefits, charges and features offered. To find out what else you should consider before transferring, please read our transfer factsheet. This information is not a personal recommendation for any particular investment. If you are in any doubt whether or not a pension transfer is suitable for your circumstances or if you are unsure about the suitability of an investment you should speak to one of Fidelity’s advisers or an authorised financial adviser of your choice.

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