Keeping your pension funds safe

One of the negative consequences of the pension freedoms has been a sharp rise in fraudulent schemes seeking to part investors from their pension funds. This trend in fraudulent attacks has only been heightened in the last year as scammers have sought to use the Covid pandemic to target investors.

You can help to keep yourself safe by being alert to the following tell-tale signs:

Cold calling: Any cold call, text or email you receive about your pension including a free pension review, lifetime investment scheme or pension loophole is now illegal and is likely to be a scam. If you receive a call you should hang up or if you receive an email or text you should ignore it and report it to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

Unrealistic returns: Marketing materials offering an investment return that’s much higher than anything else on the market with no warnings of the risks involved. If an offer seems to be too good to be true, it usually is.

Promises of early access: Any firm offering penalty-free access to your pension fund before age 55, for example by offering you an upfront loan.

Pressurised selling: Firms sending paperwork by courier to your door that requires signing immediately or offering a time-limited investment opportunity that demands immediate transfer of funds. Reputable companies will NEVER pressurise you in this way.

Oversears transfers: Schemes that require you to transfer money overseas – taking it outside of UK regulation and making it impossible to recover at a later date.

No authorisation: Firms not regulated by the FCA, or whose FCA membership number cannot be verified.

No contact details: Firms that do not provide an address or landline telephone number.

We recommend you read the FCA's Pension Scams leaflet for more information.

Getting advice and guidance

The choices you make for your pension fund can determine the level of income you receive for the rest of your life. For this reason, investors are recommended to seek professional financial advice and guidance to decide the best course of action to take.

James Hay cannot provide advice. If you would like to speak to a regulated financial adviser but do not have one, please visit to find a regulated adviser in your area.

If you are planning to take money out of your pension in the near future, you are also entitled to free, impartial guidance from Pension Wise. You can access Pension Wise on the MoneyHelper website or call 0300 330 1003 (from outside the UK +44 20 3733 3495), if you wish to use this service.