£1.8m lost to pension scams in Q1 2021

Savers lost £1.8m to pension fraud in the first three months of 2021, data from Action Fraud has revealed.

According to its figures, there has been increase in reporting this year so far, with 107 reports of pension scams being received by the organisation in Q1.

This represents an increase of nearly 45 per cent in comparison to the first three months of 2020.

Prior to this year, Action Fraud had observed a steady decline in pension scam reports, from 1,788 in 2014 to 358 in 2020.

Action Fraud has now launched a national awareness campaign, encouraging savers to remain vigilant and do research before making changes to pension arrangements.

“Criminals are malicious and unapologetic when it comes to committing pension fraud,” stated Action Fraud head, Pauline Smith.

“They are motivated by their own financial gain and lack any kind of empathy for their victims, who can often lose their whole life savings to these scams.

“It’s incredibly important that instances of pension fraud, and attempted scams, are reported to Action Fraud. Every report helps police get that bit closer to the people committing these awful crimes.”

The Pensions Regulator (TPR) executive director of frontline regulation, Nicola Parish, said that pension scams were “devastating”, with victims potentially losing “life-changing” amounts of money.

She urged savers to visit The Pensions Advisory Service before making decisions about their pensions and called on the industry to sign up to TPR’s Pledge to Combat Pension Scams.

“By making the pledge, industry can show its intent to protect savers,” Parish noted.

Commenting on the figures, Aegon head of pensions, Kate Smith, said: “Today’s figures highlight the scale of pension fraud and the number of people affected. It is so important that we continue to talk about this issue to make more people aware of the very real dangers.
 
“The pandemic has massively increased our reliance on all things digital. While this is great for keeping us connected, there is a dark side which can compromise our safety.
 
“We know scammers are lurking and employ a whole host of tactics to try and part people with their hard-earned savings. There’s increasing evidence to show that scammers create convincing websites or another online presence, which people can inadvertently fall prey to when searching online.
 
“This issue isn’t going away. Decisive action needs to be taken to protect people against online scams. We strongly urge the government to include online investment and pension scams and financial harms protection within the government’s Online Safety Bill.”

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