Retirement savers need to tread carefully online as pension scammers posing as consumer-friendly businesses are offering anti-fraud advice on their web sites.
Financial watchdog The Pensions Regulator (TPR) is warning that just because an advice site claims to follow the rules does not mean fraudsters are lurking.
TPR says several phoney web sites are under investigation and are even displaying the watchdog’s scam warning logo and warnings to consumers without permission.
Some are also advising clients about the tax problems of accessing their cash before they are 55 years old and not to deal with cold-callers in an effort to beef up their profiles.
“These sites are wolves in sheep’s clothing, lying in wait for unsuspecting victims by portraying themselves as being beyond reproach,” said TPR Chief Executive Lesley Titcomb.
Real threat to retirement savings
“The truth is that this next generation of scam sites poses a real threat to people’s financial futures and should be avoided.
“We welcome the government’s tough new measures, which will strike a significant blow to pension scammers who devastate people’s lives by duping them out of their life savings.
“We are working closely with government, enforcement agencies and key financial service bodies to bring scammers to justice and, through our scorpion campaign, to help the public protect themselves from scams.”
Besides warning bogus advisers to stop posing as fraud busters, the TPR is passing their details to police to consider criminal action.
£44 million in pension cash stolen by scammers
The TPR also suggests retirement savers thinking about a pension transfer or investment should visit the official Scam Smart web site to find out more about the crooks who are after their money.
The latest official figures reveal scammers have stolen £44 million from almost 3,000 pension savers since April 2014, based on reports to the police’s Action Fraud web site.
Most of the cases involve promised high yields from investments that failed to materialise, including worthless shares and bonds, overseas property schemes and cold-calling to offer a free pension review.
“If you receive an unexpected phone call, test, email or something in the post about an investment, it’s probably a scam,” said a Financial Conduct Authority spokesman.