Every day people in their 50s and 60s are being mugged for thousands of pounds.
Some are losing tens or even hundreds of thousands. The money is being stolen by criminals who lie to them. It is called fraud, but I prefer the more down to- earth word, “theft”.
Since April 2015 people aged 55 or more have been able to access their own pension money and do what they want with it – move it to another pension fund, put it in the bank, or just spend it.
For more than 100,000 people, this pension freedom has meant the freedom to be robbed.
The crime usually begins innocently enough, with a cold call or a text, email or message out of the blue. It may offer a free review of your pension.
Most of us are a bit uncertain about pensions, so it might sound like a useful idea.
The thieves may then suggest moving your pension into a better investment where it will grow more quickly, perhaps into some ethical or property investment overseas.
The thieves are very professional and very persuasive. But they are still thieves.
Never start a conversation with them. If you get an unexpected call, text, email or message on social media, assume it is from a thief and ignore it.
The Government has delayed the introduction of a ban on cold calls and texts about pensions.
Even when a ban is brought in, it will not cover all calls, and the penalty for breaching the ban will be a fine. Thieves will not be deterred – even the regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority, admits “it’s likely scammers will still continue to cold-call”.
So if you get a cold call or message about pensions or any other financial matter, put the phone down. No one ever lost money by saying no to a cold call.
For free professional advice about what you can do with your pension, use one of these two services: Pension Wise (0800 138 3944) or the Pensions Advisory Service (0800 011 3797).
To find a good independent financial adviser go to paullewismoney.blogspot.com and search “financial advice”. Paul Lewis presents Money Box on Radio 4.
Get a Free Pension Check from a 5* rated local independent adviser through Vouched For.