Almost one-fifth (18%) of people aged 50 or over have been targeted by potential scammers during the past three months, according to research by Retirement Advantage.
That equates to some 1.8 million people, who have been offered unsolicited free pensions advice or investment opportunities by phone, text or email.
Retirement Advantage pension technical director Andrew Tully (pictured) said: “The pension freedoms have opened the floodgates for scammers and con-men to prey on people who are keen to access their pensions.
“These scammers are using increasingly sophisticated and convincing ways of trying to defraud large amounts of cash from people’s hard-earned pensions and savings.”
Tully pointed out attempts by financial services providers and regulators to prevent scams had not stopped large sums of money “disappearing into scammers’ pockets”.
“My concern is the reported fraud and scams are only the tip of the iceberg as many people are either unaware they have been conned or are too ashamed to come forward and report it,” he added.
‘Keep Pressure Up’
“In response to pressure from the financial services industry, the government has promised to ban pension cold calling. This is a positive move, but we need to keep the pressure up to make sure this issue is back on the government agenda as soon as possible.”
Baroness Ros Altmann recently fought for such a ban to be introduced as part of the upcoming Financial Guidance and Claims Bill but was told the government had no plans to include it “at this time”.
In response to Altmann, Department for Work and Pensions representative Baroness Buscombe said the government planned to publish a consultation “shortly” that would look at ways to tackle pension scams, including cold calling.
H Godfrey (PA)