Well, somebody has been!
In February, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said it had received 11,650 enquiries regarding scams between 1 December 2015 and 30 November 2016. 13% of all their dealings with consumers were about scams.
You might be reading this thinking, I’m a grown up, I can handle myself. I would never fall for a scam. What about your more elderly family members who weren’t brought up with the online dating and over-egged linkedin profiles (not me ?), who genuinely trust people to be who they say they are?
If any of your family could be vulnerable to scammers, you could really help them out by reassuring them it’s okay to question someone’s motives when they ring you out of the blue!
Thanks to a campaign initially started by a Financial Advisor from Derbyshire, Darren Cooke, the huge issue of cold calling pension scams was drawn to the attention of Chancellor Phillip Hammond who pledged to stamp it out.
Last week the Government published it’s consultation on a proposed ban of cold calling. You can find it here.
The report says, “In 2013, 97% of pension fraud cases brought to Citizens Advice stemmed from cold calling.” It lays down a three pronged approach to stopping the problem; banning cold calling and tightening up on the transfer from pensions and the creation of new pension schemes to make it harder for scammers.
Research from other financial institutions has revealed the problem was more widespread than expected and from my own experience I noticed a growing number of calls springing up after the last Chancellor announced the new freedom to take out your pension early. There are always unintended consequences, but this was not one we couldn’t see coming like a freight train!
The problem with pensions is that by the time the fraud occurs there is no time to earn more money. These are people’s life savings quite literally.
Just a little story; I did speak at length with a pension’s scammer on the phone who knew more about me than I was comfortable with. After a while, I confessed that I worked in finance and how dare people like him try it on like this, giving the whole industry a bad name. Obviously he hung up, but I looked up the number online using this useful website called who-called.co.uk I discovered the name of the company and traced them to a residential address in the midlands where 44 other companies were registered!
This applies to any phone call, if you at are unsure- no matter how bona fide it sounds- there is no such thing as an emergency that can’t wait a few minutes. You can google the number and check that they are who they say they are.
Interestingly while I have been writing this I have two numbers call my mobile, usually I don’t answer unless I recognise the number (they'll leave a message if it's important), but in the interests of research I picked up!
“Hello is that Rebecca Bailey?”…no it’s not. A classic scammer technique. They are calling a random number and you’re about to tell them who you actually are. DON’T!
Followed very closely by a second call, also a Manchester number, possibly the same call centre using a different number.
“Hi it’s Paul here from DirectClaims”…Just. No.
After checking on www.who-called.co.uk I discovered 12,000 people have searched for this number and many had left comments warning of a scam, sometimes asking about PPI, sometimes Accident claims and often asking for the wrong person.
"This will never happen to me?" well it happened to somebody...