Over recent years there has been a concerning increase in investment scams. Alec Ramsey, Head of Compliance, provides an insight into watching out for warning signs and how you can avoid becoming a victim of investment scams.
The attraction for potential scams:
Each year £1.2 billion is lost to investment scams in the UK. 10.9 million people, roughly one in six people in the UK, are cold-called about their pension each year. Fraudsters and scammers are looking for opportunities wherever income or investment funds exist, so whether you are planning for retirement or in retirement, your investments or income are potential targets.
The greater flexibility from Pension Freedom legislation in April 2015, giving greater access to pension pots and more choices on providing income in retirement than ever before, has also attracted criminals exploiting these changes.
Who falls prey to scams?
Although there are some instances where very elderly people have been pressured into investing, scams tend to target the over 55s, not because they are seen as vulnerable groups but because they are the ones who are more likely to have disposable income – their savings, lump sums and maybe even their pension pots – to invest.
Look out for the warning signs:
Simply, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Common warning signs are offering unusually high investment returns, cold calling, offers of free financial advice, and for the under age 55s, early access to your pension funds.
· Be wary of cold calls, unsolicited texts or emails – if you have not heard of the company, check that the firm and any adviser are registered with the www.fca.org.uk/register
All firms on the register are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, which means that they have to act fairly and reasonably with clients by adhering to regulations in how they operate. This gives you, a level of protection.
· You can make yourself aware of some common scams at www.fca.org.uk/scamsmart – which maintains a list of known scams.
When you are offered or receive financial advice, do not fell pressurised to respond immediately. Financial planning could have life changing implications, for example, withdrawing funds from a pension will impact on your lifestyle in retirement and may affect other aspects of financial planning such as Inheritance Tax planning.
You should feel comfortable about the decision you are making, so take the opportunity to ask any questions you may have. Or if you feel you need time to reflect on what you have been told before making a decision, you should be able to take the time you need.
What to do if you think you have been a victim of a scam?
You can report a scam by calling the FCA Consumer helpline on 0800 111 6768 or by reporting it online at www.fca.org.uk/scams or if you have lost money to fraud, you should report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or online at www.actionfraud.police.uk.
Working together to protect your investments:
If you do receive any approach which either concerns you or which appears to offer an attractive investment opportunity – please ask your Origen Consultant. Our Consultants can investigate the opportunity and then advise you whether the proposition is suitable for you and discuss with you any additional considerations you should be aware of.
Not all investments opportunities will be very risky or scams but they still may have certain restrictions which may not suit your goals. Our Consultants have a wide knowledge of products in the financial services industry and can identify any drawbacks of investments so that you make a balanced decision for your investments and retirement.
The rise of these scams requires us all to be vigilant of any approaches. Industry groups, like The Pensions Advisory Service, and regulators like the Financial Conduct Authority and The Pensions Regulator as well as providers are keen to tackle investment scams. The Pensions Regulator also offers some guidance on being aware and vigilant http://tpr.gov.uk/individuals/dangers-of-pension-scams.aspx.
You have worked hard to build up your investments and will look for the best solution available – but proceed with caution and please ask your Origen Consultant for their advice and support to avoid you becoming a victim.
This article is for information only and is not to be taken as Financial Advice.
CA1772 Exp. 12/18