The number of people seeking information about pension scams has risen sharply since the launch of the first joint campaign by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and The Pensions Regulator (TPR) this summer.
In the 55 days before the launch around 31,000 people visited the ScamSmart website at an average of 562 per day. In the 55 days after the launch this rose five-fold (462%) to more than 173,000 people – an average of 3,145 per day and the equivalent of one every 27 seconds.
Additionally, over 370 pensions holders were warned about an unauthorised firm after using the Warning List, an online tool that helps consumers check a list of firms operating without authorisation.
The two regulators are urging all pension holders to be on their guard against pension scams as new research suggests that 52% of 45-65 year olds with a pension do not think they are likely be targeted by a pension scam. The most common reasons given were that they are too savvy to be scammed (21%) or that they didn’t have enough money saved in their pension (18%).
Victims of pension scams last year lost an average of £91,000 each to fraudsters. They reported receiving cold-calls, offers of free pension reviews and promises that they would get high rates of return – all of which are key warning signs of scams.
Research from the FCA estimates over 10 million UK adults received an unsolicited pension offer in just one year. The Treasury has laid regulations that will ban pension cold calling early in 2019.
Mark Steward, the FCA’s executive director of enforcement and market oversight, said: “Our research shows that many pension holders believe they are too savvy to be scammed. But pension scams are often very sophisticated and difficult to spot. Scammers will target people from all walks of life and with any size pension.
“The best way to protect yourself is to always check the FCA Register to make sure that anyone offering you pension advice or any other financial service is authorised by the FCA.”
Nicola Parish, the TPR’s executive director of frontline regulation, said:“The dramatic increase in the number of people visiting ScamSmart for information is very encouraging but this is not the end of the campaign.
“Every pension holder is a potential scam victim so it’s vital that we continue spreading the word about scammers and how they operate to prevent more people handing over their funds to criminals.”