Degrees of difficulty – so think before you leap

A startling study released last week shows those educated to degree-level are more at risk of pension fraud than those without the qualification. A survey from the Financial Conduct Authority and the Pension Regulator shows fraudsters offering ‘free pension reviews’ with unsolicited phone calls target those with larger pension pots.

Given graduates have historically generally earned more than non-graduates, it doesn’t take a professor of rocket science to work out they are higher on the list than your average earner.

According to BBC Online’s report of the study, one in seven (14 per cent) of graduates told the regulator they would accept a review from a company they did not know. Only one in ten non-graduates said they would.

A stranger calls, texts or emails you uninvited and offers to make your longest-held financial asset perform better. You may be offered sophisticated, exotic or apparently successful investments – in hotels, renewable energy or green construction schemes. All you need to do is transfer your pension pot.

Think about it, this is the very definition of a scam.

And last year actual pension scam victims, according to the regulators, lost an average of £82,000. Typically this size of pension pot would take an average saver 22 years to put aside.

At least two victims, it has been reported, have lost more than £1m.

Nicola Parish, from the Pensions Regulator, told the BBC: “Pensions scammers ruin lives, stealing away decades-worth of savings with professional looking websites, ‘expert’ advice and an easy manner… Once you sign on the dotted line often there’s no way back.”

Helpfully, the Government introduced a ban on unsolicited calls offering ‘pension deals’ of this kind a fine of up to £500,000.

They are however, not called fraudsters for nothing. They won’t go away and they will always be there and many may consider this potential fine peanuts in their scheme of things.

Remember the old financial maxim: If it sounds too good to be true, it almost certainly is.

Always take time to think and ‘cool off’ rather than agree to a deal straight away.

Trust your instincts and don’t give away personal financial information over the phone or internet to someone who cannot properly identify themselves – a bank, building society or genuine pension company will never ask you to do so.

If you do have a question about your savings, mortgage or any financial worry, please feel free to call us. We’re not called the Family Building Society for nothing and our highly-trained and friendly staff are on hand to help - without pressure of any kind.

For more information on protecting yourself against frauds and scams visit our dedicated webpage.

Written by Steve McDowell

The content of this blog is Steve McDowell’s personal opinion and comment, and views expressed here are his and unless specifically stated, are not those of Family Building Society. The content on this page is not intended to be advice in any circumstances.