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Billions lost to pension scams in the UK

After working hard their whole lives, pensioners in the UK can finally relax and enjoy their retirement. Then the phone rings, with scammers trying to swindle them out of their life savings. 

The Pension Scams Industry Group, a voluntary body formed to tackle pension scams, estimates that £10 billion has been lost by 40,000 people to pension scams since 2015.

That figure was quoted in a House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee report. According to the report: 

“The pension freedoms introduced in 2015 gave people more choice in how they use their pension savings to meet their own needs. But by offering pension savers access to a much wider range of investments, the freedoms also put people at risk of a much wider range of scams and financial fraud.”

Nicola Parish, Executive Director of Frontline Regulation for The Pensions Regulator, a governmental body that regulates pensions in the UK, explained the severity of the situation. “Pension scams are devastating, with victims potentially losing life-changing sums. Savers must be cautious about making decisions about money that may have taken a lifetime to build, as it can be snatched away in an instant.”

What Hiya users are saying about pension scams

Hiya users in the UK are also reporting pension scams. Consumers using Hiya Protect via their carrier, device manufacturer, or the Hiya mobile app can tap a prompt on their handset to report the call as a nuisance or fraud and can also leave a comment. Here are some of the comments we’ve received about pension scams in the UK: 

“Called twice asking about pension and personal information.”

“Pension scam. Trying to get you to swap your pension to them and they run off with all your money.”

“If I've moved my pension in the last 10 years, I could be entitled to £40,000. She addressed me by my first name and then closed with my last name. Strong accent.”

“Says I spoke to them years ago about transferring my pension. I know this is fake, as I have a civil service pension, not a private one.”


Watch out for the “free pension review”

Many Hiya users report calls offering them a “free pension review.” Free pension reviews are one of the most common tactics scammers use to entice their victims, says the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), which regulates financial businesses in the UK to ensure that markets remain competitive and fair.

“If you’re contacted unexpectedly and offered a free pension review, it’s likely to be a scam. Professional advice on pensions is not free,” says the FCA.

According to the FCA, most companies offering free pension reviews aren’t authorized by the FCA, but many falsely claim they are. During these reviews, scammers persuade pension owners to move money from their pension accounts into high-risk schemes.

“Some of these investments are badly run, while others are outright scams,” says the FCA.

Early pension release scams

Another common tactic is an offer to release cash from a pension account even if the person is under 55. While there are some circumstances where an early pension release is allowed (such as poor health), most of the offers made via cold calls are scams, says the FCA. 

Not only will the pension owner have to pay a 55% tax on any money borrowed from the pension account, but the company administering the early release will also charge a hefty fee for their services. 

Learn more about phone scams in the UK

Want to learn more about phone scams in the UK? Download Hiya’s Q3 Global Call Threat Report.

The Q3 report reveals that 29% of unidentified calls in the UK are spam — either nuisance or fraud — which was up from the previous quarter. 

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The Q3 Global Call Threat Report reveals a 29.4% spam rate in the UK. 

The Global Call Threat Report provides spam and fraud rates in the 39 countries Hiya tracks. Charts in the report break down spam and fraud rates by region, including Europe, the Americas, and the Asia-Pacific region. The report highlights the most common scam calls in the UK, Canada, Spain, France, Germany and Brazil.

 You can download the report by clicking below.  



Author Andrea Moreno

Carrier Customer Marketing Manager