Crooks have stolen £46.7million from pension pots in the last four years, mostly via cold-call scams.
Some 3,000 savers have fallen victim to bogus investment offers since pension reforms were announced.
Care support worker Jenny Ringstead, 48, and her husband Mark lost £65,500 and went bankrupt due to one scam.
She said: “We’re going to struggle for the rest of our lives, I’m devastated.”
Campaigners are calling for an immediate pensions cold-calling ban due to the amount stolen from pots since freedoms were announced.
Fraudsters have raided 3,000 retirement pots since 2014, and experts fear it could be just the tip of the iceberg.
Cold calling is the most common method of pension fraud, yet it is almost two years since the Treasury announced a ban to protect savers.
Due in June, it is now not expected to come into force before the autumn.
Former pensions minister Baroness Altmann said: “The sooner cold calling for pensions is outlawed, the sooner people will be better protected.
“So many people have already suffered from such pension frauds, and they almost all start with a cold call.”
Action Fraud figures show crooks stole £23million from 253 savers last year, averaging £91,000 per victim. In 2016 the average was £26,683. It is feared more cases go unreported.
Conmen typically offer free pensions reviews to glean personal details, then offer “once-in-a-lifetime” investment opportunities requiring rapid action.
Money Advice Service research shows there are about eight scam calls every second, or 250 million a year.
The Financial Conduct Authority and The Pensions Regulator found one in eight pension holders aged 45 to 65 would trust and accept a free review.
FCA said: “We urge anyone thinking about transferring their pension to check who they are dealing with and only use firms authorised by the FCA.”
We lost everything… I’m devastated
Jenny and Mark Ringstead were talked into transferring both their pension pots into a bogus investment.
Jenny, from Cardiff, said: “I had £13,500 pension savings and Mark had £52,000 in his RAF pension. We were promised a cash incentive and yearly bonus as our cash would be invested into shares.
"We were told our pension pots would be safe and keep growing in the background. We were struggling financially and I thought this could be our way out.
"We lost everything. And we are still waiting to find out if we owe the taxman a huge bill as we have since found out that you have to pay 55% tax on pension withdrawals before 55.
“I am devastated. I feel silly I didn’t get advice. We are going to keep struggling financially the rest of our lives.”
How to keep your savings safe from thieves
Comment by TRICIA PHILLIPS
Keep your hard-earned savings safe from thieves by hanging up on cold callers.
No reputable firm would ring out of blue and offer a free pensions review or suggest you transfer all of your retirement savings to a better deal.
If an investment opportunity sounds too good to be true, it is.
In today’s low-rate environment anything that claims to be safe and low risk above 5% should raise alarm bells.
Check any financial firms or investment offers on the Financial Conduct Authority’s Scamsmart website at fca.org.uk/scamsmart.
You can also check if a company is authorised by the FCA. Crooks will impersonate real financial firms.
Don’t give out your PIN or password – proper financial firms would never request this or ask you to move cash to another account for fraud reasons.
Any doubts then call the Pension Advisory Service on 0300 123 1047 or see pensions
Source: Read Full Article