Pension scammers pretend to be regulator

I was appalled to read recently that some scammers were actually posing as staff of the regulator for pensions.

The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has that warned fraudsters are targeting people with cold-calls pretending to come from the regulator.  The Pensions Regulator said it has received reports of pension holders being cold-called by individuals who posed as the watchdog’s staff and offered the workers a free pension review.  The regulator stated it never cold calls people about their pensions and free reviews could often be a warning sign of a scam.

The regulator has so far referred two cases to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) for investigation and Mike Broomfield, The Pension Regulator’s head of intelligence, said: “We are grateful to those people who have alerted us to the cold calls.   “We’ve now referred the cases to the ICO to consider and would urge anyone else who is contacted to call Action Fraud.  “Like all reputable organisations, we never cold call people about their pensions. If anyone cold calls you about your pension, it is an attempt to steal your savings. Just hang up.”

The Pensions Regulator said neither of the individuals who contacted it about the bogus calls were tricked into handing over their details or cash.  However, as only a minority of scam attempts are ever reported, many more people who have not yet come forward may have been approached by the cold callers, it added.

Email Scams

I’ve just read in a well respected Financial Periodical that a Financial Adviser in England has received an email from a Hitman that suggested a Competitor of the Adviser wanted his ‘head on a stick’ and requested £5,000 be sent to an anonymous Bitcoin account to spare his life.

They added that usually they would just “do the work without going into the details” but instead this time they planned to go away on a “long-awaited vacation”.

If the Adviser went to the “cops”, the email warned, it would only postpone his “doomsday” further.

Why do I tell you this?  Because last week I got the same type of email.  Like the English IFA I am treating it with the contempt it deserves (as I look nervously over my shoulder!)

Scammers seem to be finding more and more ways of threatening the ordinary man or woman and unfortunately it is the weak and vulnerable that is likely to be taken in.  Emails are a wonderful method of communication but there is a downside too.

You probably already know this but, beware the expressions “Dear Valued Customer” or “Security Alert” or “A delivery attempt was made”.

I liked the cartoon I saw recently of a Royal Prince in an unnamed African Country trying to get his genuine fortune out of that country but was unable to find anyone to accept his grateful offer of 10% commission for the work he wanted them to do.  Regrettably, I think more often it is a scam!


Scammers posing as legal and financial professionals

It would appear that more and more people are falling victim to scammers posing as professionals from financial and legal services, Citizens Advice has warned.

A recent report has indicated that such professional scams now account for a fifth of all scams reported to the charity’s consumer service helpline after seeing a 6 per cent upswing in reported cases this financial year.

According to the Charity they analysed 6,426 cases of scams from its Consumer Service helpline comparing available data from October 2016 to April 2017, to October 2017 to April 2018.  The median financial loss, the ‘middle’ value recorded for all scams over this period was £330.

Citizens Advice is urging anyone who thinks they may have been targeted by a scam to report it to authorities, through Action Fraud and the Citizens Advice consumer service.

The chief executive of the service said: “Fraudsters are using new technology to peddle old tricks, posing as trustworthy professionals with persuasive offers.

“Anyone can fall victim to these sophisticated scams, but all too often it’s the victim rather than the scammer who are left feeling sheepish. This isn’t right.

“So, this year we want to break down the stigma around these serious crimes, which are targeted across all levels of society, yet remain under-reported.”

In one case recorded by Citizens Advice a former finance professional fell for a sophisticated clone investment scam after investing £25,000 in a company she thought was legitimate.

The scammer had set up a clone website in a regulated investment company’s name so it appeared legitimate.

Consumer Minister and Conservative MP for Burton, Andrew Griffiths, said: “Scams like these can have devastating financial and personal costs to those affected.

“Anyone can fall victim, young or old, which is why I am pleased to work with Citizens Advice to break the stigma and encourage people to speak up.”

He said the government has been cracking down on scams, with National Trading Standards stopping more than 8 million items of scam mail in the past year alone.

Retirees not recklessly spending pension wealth

Older people are holding onto their savings and are reluctant to spend money impulsively, according to research from the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

A survey recently published looking at how individuals use their wealth once they retire finds many are not drawing down as much wealth as they could.

It says, on average, individuals will draw down just 31 per cent of net financial wealth between the age of 70 and 90.

Even among individuals in the top half of financial wealth distribution, net financial wealth appears to be drawn down by just 39 per cent, on average.

The IFS suggests this wealth, whether held in housing or in financial assets, is likely to be passed on to later generations.

However, inheritances will typically only be received at relatively older ages and so someone currently aged 40 might expect to receive a bequest from their parents at age 63.

An Associate Director of the IFS says the way wealth is inherited will have implications for the level and distribution of resources among current working age individuals, particularly those with wealthy parents and few siblings.

Therefore the increased freedom people now have over how they spend their pension wealth in retirement will require careful monitoring, she adds.

Royal London policy director Steve Webb says: “This report confirms that the vast majority of pensioners who have saved through their working life are cautious with their money and leave unspent wealth at the end of their lives.

“This is great news for those who believe in pension freedoms. The IFS research suggests that the biggest concern about pension freedoms is likely to be about excessively cautious retirees spending too slowly than it is about reckless retirees blowing their pension savings on lavish living.”

Two thoughts come to mind.  If you can afford it, i) use your income in retirement while you can enjoy it and ii) shrouds don’t  come with pockets!