- The Pension Schemes Act aims to better protect people from scammers, but we need more from the Online Harms Bill too.
- 79% of the over 55s said they had been approached by a scammer in the previous 12 months.
- More than one four wouldn’t be worried by an offer of a guaranteed return until they were offered 10% a year or more. Another one in six (16%) have no idea what kind of guaranteed returns should ring alarm bells.
- The older we are, the more confident we are that we can spot scams: 89% of those aged 55 and over said they would spot one, compared to 82% of those aged 35-54 and 68% of younger people.
- Older people are particularly good at identifying some of the most common scams: 93% of over 55s recognised a cold call about a pension review was a likely scam and 96% would be wary about being pressured to make an investment decision.
- Scammers change their methods quickly and are increasingly using social media. More needs to be done to clamp down on these activities.
Survey of 2,000 people by Opinium for HL.
Helen Morrissey, senior pensions and retirement analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown:
“As we get older, we’re more and more confident we can spot a scam, but one in four people aged 55 and over would still be convinced by a criminal claiming to offer guaranteed returns of 10%. This is particularly worrying because this age group is most likely to be targeted by pension scammers. The Pension Schemes Act will help to better protect people from pension scammers, but we need more from the Online Harms Bill too.
Scam activity has become so widespread that most people have a story about how they’ve been approached. Increased awareness of scams means the tried and tested methods of offering free pension reviews for instance are more likely to attract suspicion, which is good news.
However, although most people are well aware that if something sounds too good to be true, then it often is, many don’t realise that anything offering guaranteed returns should be viewed with suspicion if it’s returning more than cash savings. It’s why anyone with a pension needs to spend some time getting to know what’s in their pension, the risks inherent in their investments, and the potential growth they could get in return. That way they have something to compare these scams to.
Scammers also adapt to exploit any vulnerability, so we need to know about newer scams, so we can keep our pensions safe. Criminals are now more likely to target people through social media and online advertising. We would like to see more done to make people aware of the potential dangers of being approached in this way and would urge government to look at how these areas can be included in the Online Harms Bill.”
Tips to avoid scams
- Be wary if someone you don’t know contacts you out of the blue regarding an investment offer. If something sounds too good to be true then it often is so beware of promises of high, guaranteed investment returns.
- Don’t be pressured into making a quick decision. Scammers don’t want you to have time to think about what they are offering you and may pressure you to make a quick decision to hand over money.
- Scammers are very good at cloning emails and websites so they look like they are contacting you from a reputable company. Checking things like email addresses for spelling errors or strange formats is important in detecting whether they are a scammer also check websites to see if there is a company address rather than a PO Box for instance.
- Don’t be scared to cut off contact. The scammer may come across as very charming but if they are pressuring you then don’t be scared to terminate contact. This could be as simple as stopping emailing them or even putting the phone down on them.