The Financial Conduct Authority has launched the next wave of its ScamSmart campaign, aimed at preventing people from investing in “dodgy investment scams” made easier by next month’s at-retirement reforms.
The campaign highlights warning signs consumers need to be aware of from scammers who want to trick people into investing their hard-earned cash with offers of high returns.
Unfortunately, such schemes have been particularly active in the last 10 years or so and thousands of people have fallen victim to pension scams. Unless people become more vigilant and know how to do their own background checks on companies the problem will continue.
At TLW we have seen people fall victim to scams involving investing in off-plan property developments, forestry projects, farmland investments and store pods to name but a few. People are lured in with the promise of high returns which ultimately turn out to be too good to be true.
The regulator said that would-be investors should reject any cold calls, check their approved warning list and get impartial advice. However, in many past examples, these measures may not prevent people falling victim to scams. In the coming weeks, we will be issuing some helpful guidance which can help you from falling into a pension scam.
A warning on the FCA’s website reads: “People offering high-risk investments or scams will often cold call. The firms that we regulate are very unlikely to contact you in this way about investment opportunities.
“There are ways that callers can pretend they aren’t cold calling you. They may refer to a brochure or an email that they have sent you. That’s why it’s important you know the other tell-tale signs that suggest the investment opportunity is likely to be very risky or a scam.”
Research carried out earlier this year on behalf of closed life fund consolidator Phoenix Group found 45 per cent of pension savers yet to retire have been contacted, either through unsolicited calls or messages sent via email or text.
The update also warned that scammers will often apply pressure on consumers to invest in a time-limited offer, for example, offering a bonus or discount available before a set date. They may also promise tempting returns that sound too good to be true, for example, offer much better interest rates than those offered elsewhere.
Martin Wheatley, the FCA’s chief executive, said that while the new pension flexibilities will offer people the freedom to make choices that suit their plans for retirement, this is exactly the time when people need to be alert to the dangers of scammers offering opportunities that are too good to be true.
“Any decision about your retirement is important, start off on the strongest footing by being ScamSmart.”
If you are concerned that you may have been mis-sold an investment or fallen victim to a pension scam call TLW today to see what we can do to help. Even if the company who sold you the pension or investment is no longer trading or contactable we still may be able to help.
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