Cheeky scammers have sent a text to Pensions Minister Steve Webb asking him to give them a call if he wants to liberate his pension.
The minister was about to address a conference hosted by the Resolution Foundation think tank when he picked up the text.
As a result of the text, Webb is alerting retirement savers to the dangers of dealing with fraudsters trying to get their hands on their cash.
He read the text out to the delegates – it said: “If have a frozen pension prior to 55, you are entitled to a free review. Call back.”
Webb explained fraudsters are sending out texts, email messages and automated cold calls to millions of pension savers.
Pension Wise advice
“Wherever there is money you will find someone trying to find an easy way to get their hands on it,” said the minister.
“Hard working people have saved for years for their pensions and these scammers promise the world but all they really want is a slice of what other people have got.
“Anyone contacted by these crooks should ignore their messages and if they need advice, use the government’s free Pension Wise service which is due to open soon.”
He explained that only Pension Wise had government authority to give free advice about the pension changes due to take place in April 2015.
“These people are fraudsters and no one should deal with them,” said the minister.
Webb did reveal that fraud investigators were conducting a secret operation to identify the pension scammers, but declined to go into the details.
From previous announcements, it is known that HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), the Serious Fraud Office and other government agencies have led a concerted effort to stop firms involved in pension liberation scams.
Pension provider Phoenix Group recently released statistics that disclosed 40% of people over 40 years old had been contacted by pension liberation fraudsters and that a quarter were tempted to find out more about their offer and around 14% had contacted a scammer.
From April, new pension rules allow retirement savers to withdraw their cash when they wish.
The first 25% of any withdrawal is free and income tax at the savers marginal rate is paid on the balance.
The government is expecting a rush of retirement savers to draw money from their pensions in April.