Specialist pensions conmen trying to capitalise on new laws, Northampton charity warns

David Massarella (Pension Specialist), Jane Smeathers (Administrator), Barbara Boulter (Pension Specialist), John Stimpson (Pension Specialist)
David Massarella (Pension Specialist), Jane Smeathers (Administrator), Barbara Boulter (Pension Specialist), John Stimpson (Pension Specialist)

Conmen are targetting pensioners with false offers to move their pension funds to non-existent schemes, finance experts at the Citizen’s Advice Bureau in Northampton are warning.

The fraudsters often work over the phone, convincing victims to move their pension pots into fraudulent schemes, pretending to be their employer or pension provider, or offering bogus “free” financial advice.

Many are trying to take advantage of confusion over pension laws that changed in April, which allow those reaching retirement to withdraw or move the funds with more freedom.

Martin Lord, chief officer of Central and East Northamptonshire Citizens Advice Bureau charity said: “These scammers see pensioners as a prime target. There are many people looking to benefit from the new pension rules, including conmen.

“Fraudsters can ruin people’s retirement plans by taking a portion or all of a victim’s pension pots.

One example saw a man put his £85,000 funds into a retirement benefit scheme promising three per cent on his investment after he received a call about moving his frozen pensions.

He even received £1,000 for the transaction, but he started to worry about his money when, despite being promised a regular letter, he didn’t receive any documents.

Mr Lord said that anyone who feels unsure about a cold call or dodgy-sounding offer over their pension should let someone else know, and report it to the authorities.

People can get help and support from Citizens Advice if they are worried they have been targeted by fraudsters.

However the CAB advises people not to be rushed into any decision over their pension and to never give out bank details unless you are absolutely ceratin you can trust the other person.

Five examples of pension scams Citizens Advice Bureau has come across are:

-Moving savings into a new ‘pension’

Scammers charge pensioners high fees for moving their pension but nothing happens; the money is moved without their permission; or the pensioner agrees the move then the money goes missing or is transferred to fraudulent schemes.

-Fake investment opportunities

People are told by scammers they can get more out of their savings by investing in pricey goods, like wine, or ‘revolutionary’ new products or projects.

-Offering free ‘advice’ and support

Scammers offer ‘free’ pensions advice or a review of the victim’s savings, which can cost money and be useless or may just be a cover for obtaining crucial personal details.

-Charging a fee for a dodgy service

People are offered services for a fee. In some cases no service is provided at all, whereas in others a service is provided but it is either expensive or not in the consumer’s best interest.

-Getting personal information from people

Using the ‘phishing’ or ‘vishing’ techniques of contacting people by email or over the phone, scammers get victims to give over personal data, like their National Insurance number and bank account. Sometimes the con will use information such as the person’s employer or pension provider.

People approaching retirement with a defined contribution pension pot will be able to get help from Pension Wise by visiting the Government’s Pension Wise website, calling 030 0330 1001 or calling or popping into any Citizens Advice Bureau