Older people are swiftly becoming ‘prime targets’ for pension pot scammers, a leading advice charity has warned.
In a study of 150 cases, a report from Citizens Advice reveals the extent to which scammers will go to trick savers out of their pension pots.
The charity has helped over 5,000 victims between April 2014 and March 2015, a third of which were people aged 65 and over.
Almost 200,000 people have approached Citizens Advice seeking online advice with pension issues over this period. 93,000 have received face-to-face support.
One of the tactics used by scammers is to offer savers the option to invest their pension in a lucrative ‘retirement benefit scheme’. The money then goes missing or is transferred to fraudulent schemes.
A 79 year-old was tricked into investing their savings in wine. The scammer later telephoned the pensioner advising them they could lose over £7,000, unless they sent a further £5,500.
One woman received a call offering to check to see if she was receiving all the pension she was entitled to. Having been told the ‘service’ was free, she provided the caller with her personal details. She later discovered that an attempt had been made to remove money from her bank account without permission.
Another woman received a letter from someone claiming to be her employer. The letter asked that she confirm her personal details, such as her National Insurance Number and date of birth. The women later approached Citizens Advice for help because she knew her pension provider already had the details.
According to Citizens Advice, people aged 65 and over are more than twice as likely to seek support over fraud and scam issues. Two-thirds of these said they have been contacted by cold-callers offering ways to invest their pension or increase its value.
Citizens Advice is advising anyone who is concerned about suspicious phone calls to contact them.
Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “Scammers see pensioners as a prime target. There are many people looking to benefit from the new pension rules, including scammers.
“Fraudsters can ruin people’s retirement plans by taking a portion or all of a victim’s pension pots.
“Anyone who feels unsure about a cold call or dodgy offer they have received about their pension should let someone else know, and report it to the authorities. People can get help and support from Citizens Advice if they are worried they have been targeted by scammers.
She added: “Pension Wise guidance will help people get to grips with their pension options and equip them with the knowledge of what to look out for to help them avoid falling victim to scams.
“Regulators and the authorities must work together to quickly identify scams and stop pension scammers from going on to do more harm.”