Have I been contacted by fraudsters?
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Phil Beck, Independent Financial Adviser with Smith & Pinching, Chartered Financial Planners, advises on how to respond when targeted by pension scammers.
I have been contacted by a well-known financial company via email to suggest that I need to undergo a full financial review in the light of the changing world financial situation, which they will give me free of charge. They say that they will be able to guarantee that my pension will grow by 5pc above the rate of inflation in the next five years if I take my money out of my current pension scheme and pay it into theirs. They’ve told me that their special offer is because of measures introduced by the Chancellor to boost people’s pensions and that I have to act before the end of October to qualify. If I want to sign up, all I need to do is email them back and they’ll take it from there. Do you think this is a good idea?
Phil Beck of Smith & Pinching responds:
I’m pretty certain that you have been targeted by fraudsters here and that the email you have received is not from the company it claims to be from. Please don’t respond to these people – and definitely don’t withdraw your pension savings and hand them over!
The first thing to say is that there is no current government scheme to give pension savers a boost. This is a clear lie. They’re using the supposed October deadline to put undue pressure on you to make a quick decision. It’s a common ploy: never give in to this sort of pressure.
Secondly, genuine pension providers won’t contact you out of the blue in this way. Generally, cold calling about pensions is banned in the UK, except under strict circumstances, such as an existing relationship that includes cold calling. Fraudsters will have made it look like the email is from a genuine pension provider but lifting a logo from a real company and putting it in an email is easily done. There’s a hard and fast rule for any emails you’re not expecting: delete them! Certainly, you should never ever click on a link in an email unless you’re absolutely certain it is safe.
The other – and probably most serious – clue that this is a scam is their claim to guarantee you significantly higher returns than you are currently getting. Remember: if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
If you are in any doubt whatsoever about a pension or investment option that is being offered to you, talk to an independent financial adviser from a firm authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). You can check that the firm is authorised on the FCA website at register.fca.org.uk. The FCA are running a campaign – ScamSmart – to combat financial fraud: you can find out more or report a scam at www.fca.org.uk/scamsmart
Any opinions expressed in this article do not constitute advice. The value of an investment and the income from it could go down as well as up. The return at the end of the investment period is not guaranteed and you may get back less than you originally invested.
For more information, please visit smith-pinching.co.uk