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Beverly Chandler

Over 55s targeted by fraudsters

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The employment benefits consultancy firm, Portus, has conducted a survey that finds that 14 per cent of working over 55s believes they have been targeted by a pension scheme scam since the April pension changes.

 Their  findings reveal that 24 per cent of the scams involved being offered other products in which to invest pension savings, without explaining what they were, while 69 per cent said the suspected fraudsters tried to access their funds by offering a ‘free’ pensions review.
 
More than a quarter (27 per cent) said the suspected scam involved being offered an ‘exotic’ investment scheme promising attractive levels of return.
 
Portus says that there could be over 1,600 suspicious companies or schemes involved in UK pension scams, and between April and August this year, they stole more than GBP9 million from savers.  However, Portus believes that the true figure could be much higher because only 12 per cent of people who believe they have been targeted by these criminals reported it to the authorities.
 
Portus Consulting Commercial Director Steve Watson says: “The pension freedoms are to be welcomed because they give people greater control over how they use their own money. However, more needs to be done to educate people about pension scammers and also capture and deter these criminals.  Employers can also play a role here through their employee benefits programmes.”
 
“The amount of money savers lost to pension scammers between April and August this year was just over GBP9 million, which is around twice as much as the same period in 2014. However, these figures could be just the tip of the iceberg because our research shows that many people don’t report the fact that they have been targeted.”
 
Portus’ research reveals that 52 per cent of people aged 55 and over who have been approached have been targeted once by pension scammers since April,  but 35 per cent say they have been approached up to five  times while 13 per cent have been approached more than five times.       
 
The most common way used by potential scammers to contact over-55s is by email cited by 36 per cent of people who believe they have been targeted.  This is followed by phone (33 per cent) and post (28 per cent).
 
Portus has recently launched a new service called RetirePort, which by default protects users from scams; within its scenario planning functionality, it only allows users to do what legislation allows; for instance not allowing cash to be accessed before age 55.
 

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