Tuesday 25 August 2020 6:00 pm

Regulators target football fans in pension scam awareness campaign

Regulators are targeting football fans in a new campaign intended to raise awareness of pension scams, with over £30m reportedly lost to scammers since 2017. 

Reported losses range from under £1,000 to as much as £500,000, according to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and The Pensions Regulator (TPR) with the average victim being a man in his 50s.

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As a result the regulators have today launched the ScamSmart campaign and teamed up with football commentator Clive Tyldesley. 

Savers have generally failed to spot the signs of a scam and are unaware of how much is in their pension pots, which is particularly true for football fans approaching retirement. Just 43 per cent know how much is in their pot while 45 per cent do not know how to check if an approach about their pension is legitimate. This compares to 76 per cent knowing the cost items related to their football, such as a season ticket. 

Tyldesley said: “Scammers are very good at breaking down your defences and putting you under pressure with various deadlines. But your pension isn’t a football transfer – there are no deadlines! Your favourite team wouldn’t buy a new striker just because his agent says he’s good. They’d ask around, check out his stats, do some research – just like you should when handling your pension plans. Before you fall foul to savvy scammers, remember to take your time, seek advice, and speak to an FCA authorised adviser. Don’t agree to anything you’re unsure of.”

Last month MPs said they were launching an inquiry into pension scams after a relaxation in pension rules in 2015. So-called pension freedoms were introduced five years ago which meant over 55s are able to choose how they spend their savings, rather than being forced to buy annuity, which gives fixed income for life. 

The regulators recommend pension savers reject unexpected offers and check the FCA’s ScamSmart website. 

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Mark Steward, FCA’s executive director of Enforcement and Market Oversight said: “During these uncertain times, it is more important than ever to defend your lifetime savings from scammers. Fraudsters will seek out every opportunity to exploit innocent people, no matter how much or how little you have saved.”

“You can check the status of a firm before changing your pension by visiting the FCA register, and get advice from an FCA authorised firm before making any changes to your pension. And give scammers the boot!”