New laws aimed at cracking down on pension fraud have prompted scammers to move online, warns the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The City regulator said that 54% of the savers using its investment-scam checker tool to investigate a pension firm in 2018 had been contacted online, up from 45% in 2017.
The shift may reflect the ban on cold calling – last month it became illegal for pension firms and financial advisers to make unsolicited calls to investors. The ban also covers unsolicited emails and text messages, but scammers are using a range of online activities, including social-media activity and online advertising, in order to target investors.
As the FCA points out, you should reject any unsolicited contact, whatever the source, and don’t touch schemes that offer returns or benefits that seem too good to be true. Yet the FCA also warned that scammers are becoming increasingly sophisticated, setting up highly realistic websites and running professional marketing campaigns to lure unsuspecting savers.
The Pensions Regulator is also increasingly concerned about the sophistication of pension scams. Specifically, the regulator warned that it is investigating a series of scams perpetrated by criminal families – involving couples, siblings and adult children working together to defraud savers, often with the help of rogue advisers who have professional pensions knowledge.