We’ve a duty to look for signs of a pension scam when any transfer is requested. The kind of things scammer offer include:

  • a transfer of a pension to an arrangement that allows benefits to be paid out before age 55 (the earliest age from which pension benefits can normally be accessed)
  • promises to pay out a tax-free lump sum greater than HM Revenue & Customs allow after age 55.
  • promising pension scheme members can cash in their pension benefits early by transferring their pension savings to them. 
  • enticing people with pension loans or cash incentives. 
  • proposing the transfer payment is invested in very high-risk investments or
  • promise rates of return on investments which are very unlikely to be realised.
Such information can be very misleading and, in some cases, may also be fraudulent and entirely illegal.  Falling foul of a scam could mean you lose some or all of your pension savings. 

Cold calls used to be scammers' most common method of approach. But since the cold-call ban scammers have started using social media, or offer a free pensions review.


                Common signs of pension scams include:

  • phrases like ‘free pension review’, ‘pension liberation’, 'loan’, ‘loophole’, ‘savings advance’, ‘one-off investment’, ‘cashback’
  • guarantees they can get better returns on pension savings
  • help to release cash from a pension before the age of 55, with no mention of the HMRC tax bill that can arise
  • high pressure sales tactics – time limited offers to get the best deal; using couriers to send documents, who wait until they’re signed
  • unusual high risk investments, which tend to be overseas, unregulated, with no consumer protections
  • complicated investment structures
  • long-term pension investments – which often mean people who transfer in do not realise something is wrong for several years.


Beware of pension scams

Should you decide to transfer your benefits, you should be aware of potential pension scams. Educating yourself and remaining vigilant are key to minimising the risk posed by pensions scams. Listed here is a summary of the Financial Conduct Authority's (FCA) four key steps to protect your pension:

Step 1
Step 2
Step 3
Step 4

Step 1 – Reject unexpected offers

Scammers are often unknown contacts who will attempt to gain your trust through false claims. They will likely claim to be authorised by the FCA and will present you with unsolicited, attractive investment opportunities in an attempt to gain control of your pension pot. In other circumstance the money may be stolen outright. If an offer seems too good to be true, it likely is just that.

Step 2 – Check who you're dealing with

Remember that it isn’t usually possible to cash in your pension before the age of 55, except in cases of ill-health or where you have a protected retirement age that is below 55. Equally, you should be wary of offers for “free” pension reviews, “guaranteed” returns on pension investments or complicated, long term investments plans. FCA regulated advisors would never offer such services and opportunities. If you’re concerned about a potential scam you should report your suspicions to Action Fraud or the Financial Conduct Authority.

Step 3 – Don't be rushed or pressured

High pressure sales tactics are a common sign of a pensions scam. You should be wary of time limited offers to get the “best deal”. Be wary of promised returns that sound too good to be true and don’t be rushed or pressured into making a decision.

Step 4 – Get impartial information or advice

If you are deciding to transfer your benefits, consider consultation with the Pensions Advisory Service or an FCA regulated advisor before doing so. Those over 50 with a defined contribution pension, should consider booking an appointment with Pension Wise.

Check if a firm is FCA-authorised

Almost all financial services firms must be authorised by the FCA and appear on the  - if they’re not, the FCA says it’s probably a scam.
Check the FCA's to see if a firm or individual is authorised or registered with thethem.
You should always access the Register from the FCA,s website, rather than through links in emails or on the website of a firm offering you an investment.

The FCA has an easy to read leaflet about pension scams. You’ll find more information at or

If you ask us to transfer your pension benefits to another Scheme which is not part of the Public Sector Transfer Club, we’ll ask you to answer questions to help us prevent you from being the victim of a pension scam.  This is part of our standard checking process to help prevent scams.


Help to prevent fraud

Fraud can happen to anyone. It comes in all shapes and sizes from fake emails to fake sites and it’s continually changing. Remember your pension is safe with us.
Fraudsters are taking advantage of the current situation and there has been an increase in attempted scams. To help you spot them, here are some of the most common ones to look out for, and how to keep safe.

Fraudsters may contact you pretending to be anyone from HMRC, to your company’s CEO, asking you to transfer money or give them information but they often rely on these tactics to encourage you to click links or open an attachment:

• Urgency: Tight deadlines with a threat of negative consequences to distract you and discourage closer scrutiny
• Pressure: Pretending to be from an official source (such as the police) to encourage following their instructions without questioning
• Curiosity: Looking like something interesting or intriguing.

If you get an unexpected email or phone call like this, hang up and contact the company directly using either a contact method you already know or details you find independently on official correspondence or online.

If you have any concerns about the validity of any correspondence from us, please use the contact details.

For more information on Identity Theft, Fraud and Scams please visit the Police Scotland Website and Get Safe Online


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