"Nearly four years after the Pension Freedoms were introduced we are finally on a clear path to a single, impartial pension guidance service"
The FCA says it has seen a five-fold rise in the number of people seeking information about pension scams since the launch of its joint campaign with The Pensions Regulator this summer.
In the 55 days before the launch around 31,000 people visited the ScamSmart website at an average of 562 per day. In the 55 days after the launch this rose 462% to more than 173,000 people – an average of 3,145 per day or one every 27 seconds.
Additionally, over 370 pensions holders were warned about an unauthorised firm after using the Warning List, an online tool that helps consumers check a list of firms operating without authorisation.
Victims of pension scams last year lost an average of £91,000 each to fraudsters. However new research suggests that 52% of 45-65 year olds with a pension do not think they are likely be targeted by a pension scam. The most common reasons given were that they are too savvy to be scammed (21%) or that they didn’t have enough money saved in their pension (18%).
Research from the FCA estimates over 10 million UK adults received an unsolicited pension offer in just one year. The Treasury has laid regulations that will ban pension cold calling early in 2019.
Nicola Parish, TPR’s executive director of frontline regulation, said: “The dramatic increase in the number of people visiting ScamSmart for information is very encouraging but this is not the end of the campaign.
“Every pension holder is a potential scam victim so it’s vital that we continue spreading the word about scammers and how they operate to prevent more people handing over their funds to criminals.”
Stephen Lowe, director at Just Group, commented: “The government’s policy response to the risk of Pensions Freedoms, including a surge is scams, was ‘free advice’. The level of interest in ScamSmart offered by the FCA and TPR shows the risk of scams has not abated.
"Nearly four years after the Pension Freedoms were introduced we are finally on a clear path to a single, impartial pension guidance service – one that will not only guard against scams but also help them make informed choices about the complex choices they now face – but it really needs to become the social norm for it to deliver a comprehensive defence against scams and poor choices.
"The new opt-out default guidance service delivered by the independent and impartial Single Finance Guidance Body could become the place most people naturally go to, to sense check their plans and receive the protection to avoid those too good to be true offers.”