Pension scams

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Your pension is a valuable benefit. Unfortunately, this means it can also be a tempting target for thieves ….known as Scammers.

Scams are on the increase. Typically this happens when the victim is convinced to make a payment to a criminal who claims to be from a trusted organisation such as , a bank or a government department or even the police.

Make no mistake, criminals are targeting pension scheme members like you, with the average victim losing £91,000. For many it feels just like being robbed and it’s often money that can’t be reclaimed or replaced.

Scams can be hard to spot and are often disguised with credible websites, testimonials and materials which make them look like the real thing.

To help you spot the signs and protect yourself from a scam, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and The Pensions Regulator (TPR) suggest following four simple steps:

Step 1 - Reject unexpected offers.

If you’re contacted out of the blue about a pension opportunity, chances are it’s a scam. Pension cold calling is illegal, and you should be very wary. An offer of a free pension review from a firm you’ve not dealt with before, is also probably a scam.

Step 2 - Check who you’re dealing with.

Search ScamSmart and check the FCA’s register to make sure anyone offering you advice is authorised to do so. You can also check by calling the FCA Consumer Helpline.

If you don’t use an FCA-authorised firm, you risk not having access to compensation schemes.

Step 3 - Don’t be rushed or pressured.

Take your time to make all the checks you need – even if this means turning down what seems to be an ‘amazing deal’. And finally,

Step 4 - Get impartial information or advice.

You should seriously consider seeking financial advice before changing your pension arrangements. In some cases, for example where you are wanting to transfer more than £30,000 from a Defined Benefit scheme, it is a legal requirement to get this advice.

If you were interested in transferring-out from the Nationwide Pension Fund, we would ask you to provide additional information and where appropriate, evidence of certain actions. The Trustees have put these steps in place to help protect you and your pension.

We’re doing what we can to help protect your pension; but more generally there are also some practical steps that you can take to protect yourself from opportunists, like:

• Setting up ‘two factor authentications’ helps to secure your online banking and/or shopping accounts.

• Reviewing your credit report, to check for any unusual activity, is another easy thing to do, with a number of companies offering this service'.

• Checking your email address and type it in the box and it will tell you if there have been any data security breaches connected to it. And of course

• Reviewing your passwords – if you use the same one for multiple accounts, it’s worth changing it. To keep your passwords safe, the following tools may help.

To be sure, it makes sense to install anti-virus software on your devices – ‘Which’ has listed and reviewed possible options.

You can also fight back by reporting phishing attempts and pension scams by scammers to organisations like Action Fraud, which helps identify them and protect others.

So, whilst the threats are very real please be assured that there’s lot of help out there and lot’s that you can do to protect your pension and financial well-being. A few helpful links are on your screen now.

Perhaps we would all do well to remember that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is!

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