How to avoid a pension scam

A pension scam – when someone tries to con you out of your pension money – will often start by someone contacting you unexpectedly about:

  • an investment or other business opportunity that you’ve not spoken to them about before
  • taking your pension money before you’re 55
  • the ways that you can invest your pension money

If someone contacts you unexpectedly and says they can help you access your pot before the age of 55 it’s likely to be a scam.

If someone calls you out of the blue about your pension, the call is illegal and likely to be a fraudster. You should end the call immediately and alert the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

You may be offered a tempting way to invest your pension pot, e.g. investing it in a new hotel being built in an exotic location. Most of these offers are fake but can appear very convincing. Their aim is to get you to cash in your pension pot and transfer the money.

Once you’ve transferred your money into a scam, it’s too late. You could lose all your pension money as well as face tax of up to 55% or huge additional fees.

How to tell if it’s a scam

Watch out if an individual or company:

  • contacts you unexpectedly (known as a ‘cold call’) about your pension money by phone, text message, visiting you in person, or in other ways
  • says you can access your pension money before 55 and that they can help you with this
  • encourages you to take out a large lump sum, or your whole pension pot in one go, and to let them invest it for you
  • asks you to transfer your money quickly, even sending documents to you by courier - never make a rush decision about your pension money
  • uses words like ‘pension liberation’, ‘loan’, ‘loophole’, ‘free pension review’ or ‘one-off investment’
  • offers you an investment described as ‘unique’, ‘overseas’, ‘environmentally friendly’, ‘ethical’ or in a ‘new’ industry

Read about avoiding pension scams on the Pensions Regulator website.

Beware of copycat websites – some websites can look like they’re official government services like Pension Wise when they’re not.

Bank details scam

Always phone your provider if you receive an email saying that they’ve changed their bank details and want you to make payments into a new account – this is almost always a scam.

How to protect yourself

Check if the person or company contacting you is on the Financial Services Register or call the Financial Conduct Authority on 0800 111 6768. If you call the person or company back, use the phone number listed on the Financial Services Register.

You may be approached by someone claiming to be a pension provider, a financial adviser or from the government.

If anyone cold calls you claiming to be from the government and asks for your personal or financial details, don’t reveal them. Hang up if you need to.

Read more about avoiding and reporting internet scams and phishing.

If you’ve been targeted

If you think you’ve been the victim of a pension scam, call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or use their online reporting tool.

Speak to The Pensions Advisory Service if you’ve been unexpectedly contacted by someone about your pension.

The Pensions Advisory Service
Telephone: 0800 011 3797
Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm
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