Rogue pension websites are carrying anti-scam messages to try to trick consumers into believing that they are legitimate businesses, The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has warned.
The message comes as TPR welcomes new measures to ban pension cold calling that will help prevent potential victims from being stripped of their savings by fraudsters.
The Government has announced that it will bring in legislation for a cold calling ban, tighter rules to prevent the opening of fraudulent pension schemes and restrictions to prevent transfers into scam schemes.
TPR remains concerned about the opportunity for scam websites to claim fresh victims by targeting the vulnerable or those with limited pensions knowledge.
The multi-agency Project Bloom taskforce – led by TPR and including the DWP, HM Treasury, the Financial Conduct Authority, HM Revenue and Customs, the Serious Fraud Office, City of London Police, the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, The Pensions Advisory Service, and the National Crime Agency – was set up to tackle pension scams.
A number of suspected scam websites have been referred to TPR over the suspicion that they are being dressed up as legitimate investment vehicles – including carrying the Bloom campaign’s anti-scam material without TPR’s consent.
Some even imply they are regulated by carrying warning messages designed to prevent people falling victim to scams, such as making reference to the tax implications over accessing your pension before the age of 55 and the danger of cold callers.
TPR Chief Executive Lesley Titcomb said: “These sites are wolves in sheep’s clothing, lying in wait for unsuspecting victims by portraying themselves as being beyond reproach.
“The truth is that this next generation of scam sites poses a real threat to people’s financial futures and should be avoided.
“We welcome the Government’s tough new measures, which will strike a significant blow to pension scammers who devastate people’s lives by duping them out of their life savings.
“We are working closely with government, enforcement agencies and key financial service bodies to bring scammers to justice and, through our scorpion campaign, to help the public protect themselves from scams.”
Where TPR finds such websites, it will demand they immediately cease using material that TPR owns and will investigate with other agencies whether further action, such as legal proceedings, should be launched.
TPR is also updating its website to spell out even more clearly that just because websites talk about scams, this does not mean they are not scam vehicles themselves.
Anyone considering transferring their pension from their current provider should first visit pension-scams.com. Here you can read tips on how to make sure you are not putting your financial future at risk by transferring your funds to a risky investment or scam.
TPR is the regulator of work-based pension schemes in the UK. Our statutory objectives are: to protect members’ benefits; to reduce the risk of calls on the Pension Protection Fund (PPF); to promote, and to improve understanding of, the good administration of work-based pension schemes; to maximise employer compliance with automatic enrolment duties; and to minimise any adverse impact on the sustainable growth of an employer (in relation to the exercise of the regulator’ s functions under Part 3 of the Pensions Act 2004 only).