Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

'Great Opportunity' That May Be Just an Attempt to Con You; Pensions Minister and Hexham Conservative MP GUY OPPERMAN on What the Government Is Doing to Cut Down on Cold Call Scams - and What You Can Do to Protect Yourselves

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

'Great Opportunity' That May Be Just an Attempt to Con You; Pensions Minister and Hexham Conservative MP GUY OPPERMAN on What the Government Is Doing to Cut Down on Cold Call Scams - and What You Can Do to Protect Yourselves

Article excerpt

MOST of us are familiar with nuisance calls and have experienced the irritation of having our favourite TV programme or dinner interrupted by someone trying to sell us something - normally that we don't need!

But sometimes these calls can be more sinister. Offers of simple schemes which promise to boost your retirement savings and 'double your pension' overnight can seem like a great opportunity when you approach pension age.

But as tantalising as these offers might sound, they are often too good to be true.

You may be familiar with these types of scams, which often start with someone contacting you out of the blue by phone, email or text message with an offer or opportunity.

They might offer a 'free assessment of your current pension funds', or free financial advice, for example.

They might invite you to 'use your private pension savings more wisely' by transferring them into investment schemes - such as in properties overseas, storage companies or fine wines - offering low risks and high returns. But the harsh reality is that many are looking to target and steal your life savings. And if you're caught unaware, they can have a devastating impact on the future you had planned for.

Pension scams are on the rise and the number of cold-calls has soared in recent times.

It is now estimated that on average eight people in the UK are targeted by cold-callers every second - the equivalent of 250 million calls per year.

With private pension savings typically the biggest lifesaving that people have, new figures estimate that PS43 million has been unlawfully obtained by scammers since April 2014, with those targeted having lost an average of nearly PS15,000.

That's why our announcement this month, to bring in a pensions cold-calling ban and introduce new steps to protect private pension savers from the threat of these unscrupulous pension scammers, is so important. …

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