“Let’s be careful out there.”
Sergeant Phil Esterhaus (Hill Street Blues 1981 – 87)
We are now well into the new world of pensions freedoms. In the March 2014 budget a loosening of the rules was announced and a year later in April 2015 and the shackles truly came off. How does the landscape look today and what does it mean for pension savers in practice?
Since the new rules came into force, Courtiers has helped to guide clients through the new regulations; tax implications, opportunities and the restrictions (there are still some).
Clients generally like to know what they can and what they can’t do and we take time to explain the laws and the options from an informed view, so they can enjoy a well planned retirement, clear of any surprises in the future.
However, with a changing of the rules comes fresh opportunities for callous financial scammers to consider ‘innovative’ ways to target all the innocent people who have worked hard and are now entitled to draw on their pensions savings under the new pensions freedoms.
Recent research by the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) has revealed it is important that people should be very careful what they do, and a more recent initiative by Financial Fraud Action UK makes it very clear that financial fraud is on the rise…a steep rise. Up 53% in 2016.
Many are wise to the unsolicited email approach offering untold riches in return for the use of our bank account to release funds from unduly harsh financial regimes abroad. However, it is a sad fact that financial scammers (let’s call them what they are – fraudsters) are adept at parting people from their hard-earned savings and they are increasingly targeting pensions whilst hiding behind the new regulations.
CAB’s research (an online poll of over 2,000 adults) revealed that nearly 90 per cent of people struggled to decipher millions of unsolicited offers since pensions freedoms came into force. Fraudsters are increasingly moving away from offering ‘pension liberation’ schemes towards offers such as ‘free’ pension reviews and ‘advice’ and they are particularly targeting the 55 – 64 age bracket, precisely those people who have worked hard to build up their pension pots – people who are looking for guidance as to how to use their savings to enjoy a long and comfortable retirement.
Astonishingly, CAB’s research showed that out of all the consumers surveyed, nearly two thirds (64 per cent) would actually consider an unsolicited offer about their pension and many would only consult informal sources about whether the approach was genuine. When pushed on how they would check whether an offer was legitimate, almost half (45 per cent) said they would look at a company’s website and over a third (36 per cent) would discuss it with their family. Only a third (33 per cent) thought to check that the company was listed on the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) online register.
Gillian Guy, chief executive of CAB said: ‘Fraudsters have shifted their tactics to rob people of a retirement income’.
Courtiers clients are in a position to receive the advice and guidance necessary to help protect their wealth. We investigate any circumstances of uncertainty on behalf of our clients.