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Multi-agency task force in anti-pension scam initiative

The industry estimates that around £1bn has been lost to pensions scammers

28 July 2015

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The government, criminal justice agencies, financial services bodies and regulators, have all come together in a joint venture to raise awareness of the threat that scammers pose to their pensions.

The campaign features a five point list of 'tips for staying safe', guidance on what the tell-tale signs of scammers are, as well as case studies of victims of scams.

Pension reforms which came into effect earlier this year have led to a sea of change, with the government and service providers establishing new advisory bodies - scammers are taking advantage of the scale of change and are posing as genuine service providers.

Minister for pensions, Ros Altmann, issued a firm warning to would-be victims: 'The criminals behind this illegal activity often lay a sophisticated trap complete with glossy brochures and professional websites that make them look highly credible. Don't fall for it.

'Their aim is to catch you off your guard so they can steal your hard-earned savings. Scammers wreck people's lives; it really is as plain and simple as that.'

Codenamed, Project Bloom, members of the multi-agency group include the Department for Work and Pensions, The Pensions Regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority, HMRC, the Serious Fraud Office, the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau and the National Crime Agency.

Due to the recent pension reforms which has given savers full access to their pension pot once they're 55-years-old, as well as giving savers unprecedented levels of freedom, it has also created a lot of confusion among pension scheme holders and providers.

The government launched its own guidance service, Pension Wise, while service providers such as Hargreaves Lansdown have launched their own low-cost pension advisory service.

Although these services (and many others like them) were launched with the intention of increasing understanding and awareness, the scale of change and the short length of time it has taken place in, has meant that they've merely contributed to a plethora of endless voices.

The situation is consequently ripe for scammers to add their voice to the discussion and present themselves as a genuine pension planning and advisory service.

Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, pointed out that scammers are not only interested in pension pots, but will also present their victims with the prospect of lucrative investment opportunities.

'Fraudsters aren't just trying to tempt people's pension pots away with offers of pension schemes', she said, 'They also try to entice people to hand over their money with big investment opportunities such as property abroad and fine wines.'

She continued: 'Think twice before responding to a cold call or an advert offering a free 'pension review', or high-return investment. If you think you've been targeted by a scammer, report them to the authorities.'

 

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Tax & Wealth structuring Pensions