Almost two-thirds of cases in which members of a defined-benefit pension scheme apply to transfer their benefits to another pension provider show evidence that the member may have been a victim of a scam, a leading pension consultant has warned.
Large volumes of defined-benefit scheme members continue to apply for transfers, despite guidance from regulators that such switches rarely make good financial sense.
XPS Pension Group says 64% of the cases it monitors now carry at least one red flag. These are warning signs of a potential scam, such as the adviser working with the member not having proper regulatory clearance.
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When XPS first launched its Red Flag index two years ago, fewer than a third of transfer requests raised alerts. After slipping to 25% in the autumn of 2019, the index began to climb steadily to the latest record high.
The consultant warned that the near-doubling of suspicious activity over the past two years may suggest that scammers are deliberately targeting vulnerable savers in need of access to cash amid the Covid-19 crisis.
Regulators are also warning of a broader increase in pension scams, with fraudsters capitalising on the crisis to target savers with every type of pension plan.
David Prosser is a regular MoneyWeek columnist, writing on small business and entrepreneurship, as well as pensions and other forms of tax-efficient savings and investments. David has been a financial journalist for almost 30 years, specialising initially in personal finance, and then in broader business coverage. He has worked for national newspaper groups including The Financial Times, The Guardian and Observer, Express Newspapers and, most recently, The Independent, where he served for more than three years as business editor.
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