My daughter was recently approached by a company claiming it could transfer her pension benefits before she reaches age 55. Is this a good idea?
- Tom Conner
Avoid Pension Scams
Unless your daughter is in very poor health, it’s not permitted for her to access her pension savings before the age of 55.
Unfortunately, the recent changes to the pension regime that have increased the ways in which pension benefits can now be accessed have also created numerous opportunities for unscrupulous operators to deceive unwary pension savers. As a result, pension scams are on the rise.
There are now numerous approaches being employed by such conmen including offers of free pension reviews, promises of improved returns, pension loans or early access to their pension cash. Some enterprising tricksters have even gone as far as sending couriers to your doorstep with urgent paperwork that must be signed on the spot.
The only people who benefit from these arrangements are the conmen themselves. Those savers who are drawn in by such ruses and who might manage to access their pension pot before the age of 55 will quickly find that they’re subject to punitive tax charges which will take a massive bite from their hard-earned pension savings.
Make Sure Your Adviser Is Registered With The FCA
The best way to ensure that you or your family are not the intended victims of a targeted scam is to make sure that your adviser is registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). This can be done by using the FCA register.
If your daughter has any doubts about what she’s been offered or the person who has approached her, she might like to arrange a free consultation with her local Pension Wise office — a government-backed institution which provides free ‘guidance’ on all aspects of retirement planning.
The Pensions Regulator has also produced a useful 10 step guide to spotting a pension scam including the need to be wary of unsolicited calls, texts or emails; checking out the FCA’s scamsmart; avoiding overseas investment deals such as hotels or vineyards and not getting pulled in by promises of ‘guaranteed’ rates of return or professional-looking websites or brochures.