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Avoiding financial hornswogglers

skeleton pirates.jpg

Ahoy me hearties. This be International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Knew ye that such a thing abounded?

That’s quite enough of that. But seriously, we thought it might be a good moment to remind you how to avoid those real life pirates who would steal all yer treasure (that will be your pension fund) and leave you adrift on the good ship poverty.  

Fortunately, the Pensions Regulator has done the hard work for us, identifying the most common tactics used by pension scammers to trick savers out of their savings (no skull and crossbones here):

  • A cold call, text message, website pop-up or someone coming to the door offering a ‘free pension review’, ‘one-off investment opportunity’ or ‘legal loophole’.
  • Any marketing materials that promise returns of over 8% on an investment. With long-term government bonds paying 2-3% and the dividend income from the stock market at around 4%, anything that promises substantially higher returns is likely to be very risky.
  • Paperwork delivered to your door by courier that requires immediate signature. No-one should be hurried into making any decision involving something as important as their pensions savings.
  • A proposal to put money in a single investment. In most circumstances, financial advisers will suggest diversification of assets.
  • Anybody who claims that pension assets can be accessed before age 55. They can’t.
  • Transfers of money overseas.

Reputable companies don’t approach you unsolicited. Alarm bells should ring whenever a third party gets in touch about your finances. Call the Pensions Advisory Service (TPAS) on 0300 123 1047 before signing anything.

It’s not just your pension fund that can attract pirates. There are plenty of crooked investments out there as well. If you’re investing in something outside the mainstream, do your homework. Don’t be seduced by the promise of high returns or bamboozled into making quick decisions. Look at what others say about a company and check Scamwatch. You should check a firm is registered with the FCA before doing business with them.

There be plenty a scurvy knave out for your gold. Be wise and don’t let the pirates win.

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