Beware of scammers – they’re after your money!

You have probably read or seen adverts that financial scams are at an all-time high. Scammers can be articulate and financially knowledgeable, with websites, testimonials and documents which are hard to distinguish from the real thing. This means that we are all at risk of losing our savings, pensions and other investments to criminals. Please read the information below on what to look out for and how you can protect yourself. 


Protect yourself from financial scammers

Scam tactics include:

  • Contact out of the blue:
    • Be particularly wary of cold calls, emails, texts or WhatsApp messages stating that your bank is in trouble and pushing you to transfer your money to a new bank with alternative banking details. Genuine contacts from banks are not made in this way.
  • Promises of very high or guaranteed investment returns:
    • Beware of investments that appear to be too good to be true. If you decide to invest in something offering a high return or in a cryptoasset, you should be prepared to lose all your money.
  • Pressure to make decisions quickly. Scammers want you to act before you’ve had time to think.
  • Offers of free financial reviews, including pensions reviews
  • Promises that you will be able to access your pension pot before age 55
  • Asking you to hand over an upfront fee – usually between £25 and £450 – when applying for a loan or credit that you never get. .
  • If someone claims to represent a firm authorised by the FCA to sell, promote, or advise on the sale of insurance products, you should check this on the FCA website before making any commitments. 
  • Scammers may contact you claiming to be from a Claims Management Company, insurance company or your credit card provider. They may say they can help you recuperate losses by submitting a claim, perhaps for a holiday you have had to cancel, and will ask you to send them some money or your bank details.

These tips can help protect you from scammers:

  • Beware of adverts on social media channels and paid for/sponsored adverts online - and reject any offers that come out of the blue.
  • Never give out personal information if you receive unsolicited calls, emails or contacts through social media.
  • Use the FCA Register and Warning List to check who you are dealing with.
  • Don’t click links or open emails from senders you don't already know.
  • Avoid being rushed or pressured into making a decision. Properly qualified and regulated advisers and schemes will always give you time to think things through.
  • If someone offers you a free pension review – avoid it. Properly regulated independent advisers charge fees. 
  • Remember that currently you can legally only take pension benefits from age 55 onwards. So if someone says they have a scheme where you can take your pension benefits earlier than this, it’s a scam.
  • Be very wary if you are advised to invest in unusual schemes, or investments which promise unrealistic returns.
  • Always ask what fees those advising you will charge.
If you suspect a scam – report it
If suspected scams are reported to the authorities this can help to deter criminal activities and protect others from being affected by scams.
If you suspect a scam, call Action Fraud (link is external) straight away on 0300 123 2040 you can also report the firm or the scam to the Financial Conduct Authority by contacting their consumer helpline (link is external) on 0800 111 6768 or use their reporting form.
We hope the above information will help you keep your investments safe from fraudsters however, if you would like further information on the FCA’s advice about scams, click here to help identify the warning signs of pension scams, and what you can do to spot and avoid them on the FCA’s ScamSmart website.
The Options Workplace Pension Trust: special notice
We are pleased to announce that the scheme’s administrator for the Options Workplace Pension Trust (The Master Trust) has signed up to the Pension scams pledge. This new pledge is to help stop pension scams. Introduced by The Pensions Regulator (TPR) and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the pledge is designed to help protect members from the ever-growing problem of scammers offering transfers to illicit investment schemes.
TPR is asking providers, trustees and administrators, to sign the pledge and then to self-certify that they meet six key commitments, each with an extensive list of requirements.
This includes warning members about scams, carrying out due diligence when handling and recording transfers and reporting potential scams to the relevant authorities.