As of 9 January 2019, all unsolicited calls about pensions are now illegal, and companies who break these rules could face fines of up to £500,000.
Cold-calling is a common tactic used by scammers to commit pension’s fraud, with an estimated 8 scam calls being made every second – or 250 million a year with victims losing about £91,000 on average.
The ban is expected to discourage some cold-calling activity, but criminals will ignore it or find ways to get around the rules – so it’s important to remain alert to potential scams.
Anyone receiving a cold call about their pension are advised to gather any information they can, such as the company name and phone number, and report it to the Information Commissioner’s Office on 0303 123 1113.
Apart from pension scams, criminals may also attempt to use texts, emails and social media messages.
As we have all submitted our self-assessment tax returns phishing scams claiming to come from HMRC are becoming ever more prevalent. “Phishing” is the fraudulent attempt to obtain sensitive information such as usernames, passwords and credit card details by disguising as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication” – as per Wikipedia.
Emails may say you’re due a tax rebate and need to fill in your details, or they might take a more aggressive manner and say HMRC will take you to Court if you don’t provide the money or information they demand.
Other commonly reported HMRC scams include emails about fake customs charges for something you have bought online from outside the UK and fraudulent tax forms sent to landlords living outside the UK.
HMRC says it NEVER uses emails, texts or social media to notify you about a rebate or ask for personal information.
The more sophisticated the scam is, the harder it will be to spot – but there are a few signs to be aware of. Here are three things to look out for:
- The call or message is unexpected. If someone contacts you out of the blue to question you
about your personal information or offer you an investment opportunity, it’s likely they’re not a
- Their offer sounds too good to be true. Scams often succeed because they offer
something appealing to the victim, but this is often an unrealistic promise – or one that
comes with a high level of risk.
- They put pressure on you to respond quickly. Whether it’s a limited-time offer or a
warning that you should “act immediately”, this is a tactic used to persuade you to
act before you have time to think properly about what you’re agreeing to.
Firstly, it’s a good idea to get in touch directly with the organisation concerned, using contact details you know are right, to check the contact they have made.
If you or someone you know has been a victim of a scam, get in touch with Action Fraud National Fraud & Cyber Crime Reporting Centre on 0300 123 2040 or seek legal help.