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Argyll and Bute Citizens Advice Bureau is warning that scammers are actively targeting people with pension savings across Scotland.
Most commonly ‘cold-calling’ potential victims, the scammers offer free pension reviews, promises of better returns and early cash release from your pension as a hook. Their objective is to persuade savers to transfer their pension funds into unregulated investment schemes.
Victims can expect to pay very high, unsolicited fees and tax penalties or simply see their savings disappear with little or no chance of redress.
Claudia Albrecht, Pension Wise guidance specialist at Argyll and Bute Citizens Advice Bureau, said: ‘We are aware of a number of instances of these scams being reported by individuals across the region, so it’s important to make people aware of the risk.
‘Scammers are very persuasive, suggesting they are experts doing you a good turn. Typically, they offer free reviews and early access to your pension cash.
‘In fact, many of these people are not registered with the Financial Conduct Authority and are promoting very high-risk, unregulated schemes, often with overseas investments unsuitable for most savers.
‘Stay safe. The best thing is to put the phone down. Remember, since the law changed in January this year, no legitimate firm can cold call you about your pension. So if this happens to you, whoever is calling you is acting illegally and is in all likelihood a scammer.
‘If you believe that you are a victim of a scam you should contact your pensions provider immediately and report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040. If you wish to report a concern about a potential scam, contact the Pensions Advisory Service on 0800 011 3797.
‘It’s important to report these calls when they do happen because the authorities may be able to prevent them potentially conning someone else.
‘If you want to review your retirement plans or access your savings, why would you do it through someone you don’t know who has randomly called you? You can get expert and impartial guidance through Pension Wise at your local Citizens Advice Bureau.
‘Like all Citizens Advice services, our pension guidance is free, confidential and independent. Face-to-face appointments are available now.’
Anyone aged 50 or over with a defined contribution pension scheme is eligible for a Pension Wise appointment. Call Pension Wise on 0800 138 3944 or go online at www.pensionwise.gov.uk to book your appointment. Contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau to find out more.