CONSUMERS are being urged by Cumbria Trading Standards to beware of pension related scams and fraudulent activities.

From Monday, once a person reaches the age of 55 and has a personal or company pension, they will have more choice on what to do with their pension fund.

With people able to cash in their pension fund early, potentially giving them access to substantial sums of money, it is predicted that scammers will entice people to place their pension pot in fake or unregulated investment schemes, putting their money at risk.

Phil Greenup, Cumbria Trading Standards manager, said: “It’s great that people can be more flexible with the money they’ve saved over the years, but sadly opportunists will jump on the chance to scam and deceive people, so we’re urging those affected to take our advice into account in future.”

“Even though pensions and annuities are regulated by law, this does not stop scammers ripping unsuspecting people off. We are warning the over 55s to be on their guard as they could lose some or all of their savings, on which they would have been relying for their well-earned retirement.”

He warned people to be wary if:
* you receive unsolicited contacts by text, email, phone, letter or in person, with information about investing your money under the new rules, or cashing in your pension before your retirement age
* you see offers for ‘free pension reviews’
* you are offered retirement planning advice from someone who claims to be from the government
* documentation is withheld from you
* you are offered cash incentives including loans or cash back from pushy financial advisors
*you are not told of possible tax consequences

And he urged people to remember:
* If returns on your lump sum offered seem too good to be true, then they probably are
* Always speak to a qualified Financial Advisor who is registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and obtain as much information as you can about the company’s background
* Do not give out personal and financial information about yourself to a cold caller
* Never be hurried into agreeing to an investment for the cash which has been released
* Ask for a statement about how your pension will be paid when you retire, and who will be managing the funds until then
* Don’t be afraid to gain a second opinion from an advisor who is not associated with the plan which you have received

Report fraudulent activities to Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud reporting centre by calling 0300 123 20 40 or by visiting <> 

Report financial scams to the Financial Conduct Authority using their online investment scams reporting form or by contacting their Consumer Helpline on 0800 111 6768.

For consumer advice call Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 040506.