Figures from Canada Life last month (May 2020) found 5.2m people in the UK had fallen victim to, or knew someone who had been duped by, a financial scam since the beginning of the virus outbreak.
The research found the most common financial scams were related to banking which accounted for 60 per cent of victims. This was followed by 35 per cent of victims reporting being targeted by an insurance scam.
Canada Life also identified that one in five of these victims had been targeted by a pension scammer amid an increase in fraudsters purporting to offer free pension reviews. Research from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Pension Scams found with more people staying at home in line with social distancing and lockdown restrictions, it was increasingly likely pension savers would be contacted by scammers via phone or online.
In a separate article, the Pensions Regulator repeated its warning about scams after a report from Action Fraud showed more than £5m has been lost to fraud since February. According to their research the number of fraud cases total more than 2,100 in the past five months, with losses to fraudulent activity amounting to £5,142,265.
Pension scams were amongst the most common type of fraud with fraudsters tricking victims into transferring their pension pots to criminals or releasing funds.
Commenting on the report, Charles Counsell, chief executive of the Pensions Regulator, said: “These figures once again show the true devastation of scams. We know, on average, victims of pension scams lose £82,000. Anyone can be a victim and Covid-19 has created the sort of environment fraudsters thrive in. That’s why it’s vital savers don’t rush decisions about their retirement funds.”
He reiterated the regulator’s warning against hasty and uninformed decisions about their pensions, and stressed that professional, independent advice should be sought before any such decision be made.
Mr Counsell added: “To avoid making a decision they may regret, savers can access free and impartial advice about their finances from the Money and Pensions Service.
“They should also visit the ScamSmart website to learn how to protect themselves from pensions scams.”
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