The warnings about scammers are not sinking in

Alison Steed

Alison Steed

The message just does not seem to be getting through. The question is, why not? We have all heard the old adage: ‘If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.’

Most of us will also have seen the adverts warning against pension scams on TV, read them in the paper or seen them online. So why do we see people falling victim, time after time?

Part of the issue is that many people find pensions either too complicated to understand, or too boring.

They are also a seemingly distant benefit that could be useful right now if only you could access it. Of course, this is against the rules if you are under 55, with a few exceptions.

Step in a scammer who will make this happen, leaving victims with little to no retirement income despite years of hard work and saving. Some people, but most certainly not all, will rely on advice from pension experts.

But if they do not research their adviser properly and check they are fully qualified and authorised, it leaves them open to dealing with those they believe are ‘experts’ who turn out to have little interest in helping their ‘client’ and more in helping themselves.

There are many IFAs working hard to help people with their pension plans, giving them regular guidance about how to keep their pension savings on track so they can enjoy their twilight years.

The danger is, when things go wrong, all advisers are tarred with the same brush unfairly, something rightly frustrating to good, hard-working and highly qualified advisers.

So, what can we do? Get people educated about personal finance at a much younger age? Yes, definitely.

But that does nothing to help those who are heading towards a financial abyss because they have lost their job now or are hurtling towards the time when they are going to be taking their pension.

Ideally, we need to make financial services more interesting and accessible for people, so they learn to protect themselves. But many people have tried to do this and failed. How we achieve that is one of the most difficult questions to answer.

Alison Steed is a freelance journalist