Don’t let a scammer enjoy your retirement. Find out how pension scams work, how to avoid them and what to do if you suspect a scam.

Anyone can be the victim of a pension scam, no matter how savvy they think they are. It’s important that everyone can spot the warning signs. Scammers often cold call people via phone, email or text – this is illegal, and a likely sign of a scam. They often advertise online and can have websites that look official or government-backed.

Scammers try to persuade pension savers to transfer their entire pension savings, or to release funds from it, by making attractive-sounding promises they have no intention of keeping. The pension money is often invested in unusual, high risk investments like overseas property and hotels, renewable energy bonds, forestry, parking, storage units - or it can be simply stolen outright.

Spot the warning signs of a pension scam

  • Phrases like ‘free pension review’, ‘pension liberation’, 'loan’, ‘loophole’, ‘savings advance’, ‘one-off investment’, ‘cashback’
  • Higher returns – guarantees they can get better returns on pension savings
  • Help to release cash from a pension before the age of 55, with no mention of the HMRC tax bill that can arise
  • High pressure sales tactics – time limited offers to get the best deal; using couriers to send documents, who wait until they’re signed
  • Unusual high-risk investments, which tend to be overseas, unregulated, with no consumer protections
  • Complicated investment structures
  • Long-term pension investments – which often mean people who transfer in do not realise something is wrong for a number of years

Advice from the regulators

Protect yourself and your pension. Check out the advice from the Financial Conduct Authority at FCA Scamsmart and The Pensions Regulator at TPR.

Pension transfers

If you are considering transferring any of your pension benefits out of BTPS to another pension scheme, make sure you’ve read the scams information we’ve set out on this page.

Transferring out of a defined benefit pension is a big, irreversible decision. You’d be giving up lifelong benefits for you and your dependants. If you are considering transferring out, speak to an independent financial adviser who has the Pension Transfer Gold Standard accreditation. MoneyHelper can help you find a retirement adviser with their retirement adviser directory.