Pension scams and fraud
Your pension is one of the most valuable assets you have, it provides you with financial security for life. Pensions are often targets for illegal scams and frauds and you should always be aware of potential targeting.
JSS have put together this page to provide you with information on the types of scams and fraud that you could encounter.
Please read our COVID-19 Fraud Awareness (PDF, 202KB) poster which focusses on the potential financial uncertainty that fraudsters are exploiting.
How to spot a scam
This is a list of some of the common features of a scam:
- Unexpected contact / cold calling.
- Offers of one-off investments, offers that have a limited timescale, upfront cash investments and incentives, free pension reviews.
- Recommendations of overseas investments with higher than expected returns or returns that seem too good to be true.
- Promises of early access to your pension.
- Being asked to take out a large lump sum or your whole pension pot in one go for them to invest for you.
- Not being able to prove who they are or claiming to represent an organisation without the standard proof or identification.
- Pressure selling or offers to attend your home to collect payment, paperwork or bank details.
- Contact details of the individual or company being limited or not accurate, using a mobile number or not having a physical business location.
- Cloned websites and the option in an email or text messages to click a link. This link may take you to the scammers' website, always check the link before using it or sharing your information.
How fraudsters may contact you
- They may telephone you.
- They may text you.
- They may use a website to offer you fake services.
- They may use email addresses that look official but are not.
- They may write to you using letter headings that look official but are not.
Fraudsters try to make you believe that they can offer you something easily and may sound genuine or official, they may even know some details about you already such as your name or address. Don't be fooled into giving them more information.
How to protect yourself
Be suspicious if:
- What is offered seems too good to be true.
- They ask for money; i.e. cash or to use an insecure payment method that doesn't allow the recipient to be traced, for example a money transfer, Ukash voucher or Paysafe card.
- They ask for your bank account details.
- You are pushed into making a quick decision.
- The website is badly written, contains multiple spelling and punctuation errors.
- An email comes from a free email site and/or contains poor spelling and punctuation.
- An email arrives that you are not expecting.
- Do not click on links in emails that have been sent to that may take you to a website.
If you are emailing from a link on a website, sometimes the email you see on screen is in the format you expect but when you click on it, an email is created that contains a different address in the email header. Always check the email address before sending.
What not to do if you are contacted
This is a basic list of what not to do if you are contacted by a scammer, always think if it sounds too good to be true it usually is. Always check who you are talking to over the telephone and never click on a link sent in an email or text unless you are sure of who it has come from.
The leaflet Dont let a scammer enjoy your retirement (PDF, 122KB) - opens in new window -, produced by the Pensions Regulator, contains some useful information.
- If you are contacted by telephone, do not call the number they give you to verify their identity, look the number up independently.
- Don't panic if you receive a call, text or email, always contact your actual pension provider to check first.
- Don't give out your personal details to cold calls. Don't be fooled into giving some information and then more later, this personal information can be put together to capture your identity.
- Don't be rushed into making a decision.
What to do if you think you have been scammed
- Report it to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
- Report it to Action Fraud.
- Contact your pension provider immediately if you have already started a transfer.
Links to useful information
There are numerous websites that offer help and advice regarding fraud, scams and cyber crime, some useful ones are listed below.
- The Pensions Regulator - Pension scams - external link
- The Pensions Advisory Service - Pension scams - external link
- GOV.UK - Guidance on fraud, tricks and scams - external link
- Action Fraud - Report fraud - external link
- Action Fraud - Check recent scams - external link
- Citizens Advice - Spotting a scam - external link
- Financial Conduct Authority - Protect yourself - external link
- Get Safe Online - external link
National Fraud Initiative
JSS take part in the National Fraud Initiative (NFI), which is an exercise that matches electronic data within and between public and private sector bodies to prevent and detect fraud. Taking part in the NFI involves checking our pension records against government data in order to check that we do not make payments to members who have died or are no longer eilgible to receive a payment.
As the NFI only covers UK residents, JSS will write to you periodically to confirm your continuing eligibility for your pension. If you receive a letter from us, it is important that you do not ignore it as it may affect your pension payments.
JSS recently took part in the 2018 NFI matching exercise and contacted members during Jan-Feb 2019.The next exercise will take place in 2020.
The JSS website address is currently http://jsspensions.nerc.ac.uk/ - it does not have a https secure certificate.
We have taken the decision to not move to a secure (https) site as the website does not collect or store user data and only allows the download of documents.
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