When you pick up a newspaper, check the headlines online or browse social media, it’s not unusual to be confronted with horror stories about people being taken in by scammers and fraudsters. In many cases, people are being fooled into losing huge sums of money, their pensions, their life savings, their very livelihoods.
Too clever to get caught out?
When we speak to our clients about staying safe and protecting themselves from fraud, we often get the same answer, “I’m not stupid enough to fall for any of those scams”. However, our experience is that no matter how savvy you are online, how careful you are with your passwords, or how resilient you are to the phone calls, it’s easier than you might think to get taken in. The truth is, the fraudsters are using increasingly sophisticated techniques to get their hands on your money and no matter how smart you are, there’s a chance you could become a victim.
Degree-educated savers more at risk
According to a recent survey carried out by the Financial Conduct Authority and The Pensions Regulator, people with a degree are more at risk of losing their pension to fraudsters than those without the qualification. That’s something to think about, isn’t it?
The survey of 2,000 people, found that fraudsters often target those with larger pension pots, getting access to their information by offering ‘free pension reviews’. And alarmingly, that’s something that 14% of people with a degree said they’d happily sign up for – even with a company they’ve previously had no dealings with. An easy enough mistake to make, but one that saw actual pension scam victims losing an average of £82,000 last year – a sum that would take most people 22 years to accumulate.
A serious problem
In 2017 alone, a total of 253 victims reported to Action Fraud that they had lost more than £23m to pension scammers. And they’re making it look easy.
It often starts with an unexpected call, text, social media approach or email, offering you a free pension review or a great way to make an even better return on your pension savings. Many offer you the chance of investing in hotels or green energy schemes that either never materialise or lead to big losses. Often the money is just stolen or transferred into a high-risk scheme completely inappropriate for retirement savings.
Nicola Parish, from The Pensions Regulator, said: “Pension scammers ruin lives, stealing away decades-worth of savings with professional-looking websites, ‘expert’ advice and an easy manner making it tough to spot the fraud. But once you sign on the dotted line, often there’s no second chance.”
As said before, of the people surveyed, 14% of those with a graduate-level education were caught out in this way – and that’s compared with only 10% of people without a degree. So who’s clever now?
The problem is real. One that has banks and financial institutions scratching their heads, desperately trying to find a way to keep their clients and their money safe. It’s something that at Citywide, we take very seriously too. Our clients know that we’re always here and happy to offer advice about any financial transactions they’re considering – and that timely advice can stop them falling prey to an attack from unscrupulous fraudsters. Just think of us as the ‘middle man’ – someone who’s there to stand in the way of you making any big mistakes.
Image Source: Carl Richards
As well as keeping yourself safe, try to keep an eye on what your friends and family are doing too. They may be more vulnerable to the scammers – so be vigilant and make them aware of the best ways to protect their money. You might just save them from doing anything they’ll regret later.
Stay safe with Citywide
The clever money is on Citywide. If there’s something you’re not sure about, you want to review your pension arrangements or check if your money could be working harder for you, the really smart thing to do is speak to us. We’ll give you all the advice you need, in a way that’s honest, intelligent and above all safe, so you can look forward to the retirement you’ve planned with total peace of mind.
We’re here for you, pick up the phone and speak to us today. Call 01372 365950