Regulators publish guide on pension scam reporting

The Pensions Regulator (TPR), the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and Action Fraud have published a guide for reporting pension scams, including detailed red and amber flags for pension transfers.

The red flags include not providing evidence of receiving MoneyHelper guidance, a transfer requested by an unsolicited contact and being offered an incentive to make a transfer.

The amber flags include high-risk or unregulated investments included in the scheme, unclear or complex investment structure, and overseas investment included in the scheme.

The guide has been published in the wake of TPR’s call for a united effort in stopping scams following jail terms being secured against two fraudsters, Alan Barratt and Susan Dalton.

Although Barratt and Dalton were sentenced for crimes that took place between 2012 and 2014, TPR has cautioned that tough prison sentences are not enough to dissuade all scammers.

In a blog, TPR executive director of frontline regulation, Nicola Parish, warned that jail terms alone would not keep savers safe from scammers.

She called for trustees to make use of new powers to block transfers they suspect are scams and to report any suspected scams to the appropriate authorities.

Parish also warned of the wide range of investment scams where scammers may gain access to a saver’s pension pot through the offer of an investment opportunity that could yield a higher return and advised that the regulator needed the industry’s help in ensuring pension savers are made aware of the potential risks from investment scammers.

As well as out and out criminality, high fees and unsuitable advice were also identified by TPR as risks for savers’ money.

Parish advised that concerns about high fees and unsuitable advice were often linked to the increasing transfer requests to international self-invested personal pensions and TPR’s investigations found that those seeking these transfers frequently live overseas with the transfer facilitated by intermediaries and advisers outside the UK.

TPR advised that effective communications are still key to scammers, who remain keen to build up a relationship with their targets and lull their victims into a false sense of security.

The regulator’s intelligence has shown that scammers make use of a variety of methods for establishing and maintaining contact with their victims, including phone, pension review websites, investment comparison websites, email, social media platforms, and advertisements.

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