Financial advisers welcomed a new government campaign to raise consumer awareness of pensions scams but stressed official figures may not show the true numbers of those affected.
This morning (14 August) the Financial Conduct Authority launched a joint television campaign with The Pensions Regulator to flag the most common tactics used by pensions fraudsters.
It comes amid an increase in pensions scams since 2015, when the government introduced measures to give the over-55s more access to their cash in retirement.
Anthony Wilson, managing director of solicitors Anthony Philip James & Co, said pensions scams had become a particular problem recently.
He said: "We’re working with thousands who have already been duped into making bad pension investments, many losing their entire pension savings in the process.
"It’s upsetting to see how many people have suffered at the hands of untrustworthy advisers and scammers."
Speaking to FTAdviser, Andrew Pennie, a director at pensions advice group Intelligent Pensions, said the campaign was a welcome move by the regulators, but urged companies to do more to flag the dangers too.
He said: "They have got to do something to raise awareness. Scams have a damaging impact on the reputation of pensions, which, in turn, creates more suspicion and inertia around people saving. But it shouldn’t just be down to the regulators, I’d like to see the employers do more as well.
"These scams are out there, and they are increasing in frequency, and sophistication. People aren’t necessarily familiar with the basic tactics being used."
Mr Pennie said official figures showed there were around 250 cases of pensions scams in the past year, but he suspected there are many more cases which get unreported due to victims’ embarrassment. The figures released by the FCA said the average victim lost £91,000 each.
"You start to wonder, how many of these cases haven’t been reported and how much hasn’t been noticed yet," Mr Pennie explained.
When FTAdviser called advice firms across the UK, some were keen to emphasise they had done their bit.
A spokesman for Hampshire-based IFA Sheila Tarr said: "We have made all of our customers aware of the issues relating to pensions scams, highlighted in the government campaign."
Kay Ingram, director of public policy at national advice group LEBC, also welcoming the campaign but added the long-awaited pensions dashboard would be a step forward in "defeating scams and protecting savers".
"The joint initiative, by the regulators is welcome and the public are well advised to check the credentials of anyone who offers pension advice on the FCA register," she said.
"The Pensions Dashboard could be the long-term solution to defeating scams and protecting savers. It is disappointing that the Department of Work and Pensions have not yet given the green light to this initiative which could revolutionise retirement planning.
"A simple Pin only access to each person’s Pensions Dashboard would shut out the criminals who steal other people’s pensions."