“Make the most of the new pensions rules, but be careful” – that’s the message from Croydon Council’s trading standards team with the introduction of new freedoms for the over-55s.
Since Monday (6), people in that age group have, for the first time, been able to access their entire pension pot and decide what to do with it.
There are fears that fraudsters are lying in wait for the opportunity to take advantage of the unsuspecting who suddenly find that they have thousands of pounds at their disposal.
The council is advising people not to take cold calls – in person, over the phone, or by electronic or traditional mail – from people claiming to be pension professionals, but to seek independent, qualified advice.
Under the old rules, the most common method used by fraudsters trying to access savings was to set up fake pension schemes and attempt to persuade victims to transfer their money.
The new regulations, however, mean that anybody over the age of 55 will be able to withdraw their pension savings, and put them wherever they like.
Jo Negrini, the council’s executive director, place, said: “While this is a great opportunity for people who have saved hard all their working lives to have greater control over those savings, it could also be, in some cases, an open door for rogues to walk through and help themselves.
“It’s imperative that people exercise the greatest caution to ensure the money they plan to see them through retirement is safe and doesn’t fall into the hands of unscrupulous fraudsters.
“A good first step to safeguarding their funds might be a visit to the government’s Pension Wise website, which is full of useful tips and advice.
“They should also speak to a reputable and experienced pensions, or personal finance, adviser who will be able to look at their personal circumstances and offer advice on the course of action that best suits them.”
The Pension Wise site can be accessed at www.pensionwise.gov.uk
Ask family or friends for recommendations for a personal financial or pensions adviser, or search online for local services, ensuring the proper professional qualifications are held.