Recently the UK Government introduced new pension rules, allowing people greater access to and flexibility for their pension.
Scammers are always quick to spot new opportunities to defraud you. The Pension Regulator warns of the dangers of such scams. Consumer programmes are already reporting of people who have lost their pension savings to fraudsters. But it is worse than that: HMRC warns that if you cash in your pension early in a way that does not comply with their strict rules, you will also have to pay a tax bill of up to 55% of the amount you (or rather the scammers) took out and you could end up paying penalties on top of that. So the scammer gets your money and you get a big bill.
If you are approached by text, letter or a cold call offering you a quick and way of accessing your pension early, it is best to ignore them.
Today I received a text from a number that I did not recognise (07788 286933) with the following text:
“Do you have a frozen Pension of £20k plus? Want to release up to 70% in cash within 8 weeks? For full information visit http://www.pension-unlock.com/ stop2end“.
Pension Unlock certainly seem to have a glossy website and a UK address. But on digging deeper, the Companies House web-check does not have details of any company of that name. The address seems to belong to a virtual company, i.e. an organisation offering to act as mailing/telephone centre on behalf of anyone who will pay them for that service. So, I am not confident that Pensions Unlock is a real UK company or that if I gave them access to my pension fund I would actually end up with any of the money.
The Money Saving Expert site has further tips.