Football commentator Clive Tyldesley fronts pension fraud campaign

More than £30m has been lost to pension fraudsters over the past three years, regulators have said as they launched a campaign against scammers fronted by the football commentator Clive Tyldesley.

The average victim has been a man in his 50s, prompting the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Pensions Regulator (TPR) to recruit Tyldesley to aim the campaign at that demographic. The move comes three years after the FCA used Arnold Schwarzenegger to publicise the deadline for payment protection insurance complaints.

Victims of pension scammers have lost retirement pots worth between £1,000 and £500,000 each since 2017, according to complaints filed with the national Action Fraud centre. A typical tactic is to offer attractive “time limited offers” to push savers into transferring cash into fraudsters’ accounts by a false deadline.

Tyldesley, 65, has been armed with a raft of football analogies to remind savers that there is no transfer deadline for pensions: “Scammers are very good at breaking down your defences and putting you under pressure with various deadlines. But your pension isn’t a football transfer – there are no deadlines.”

Pensions savers are reminded to take their time, seek advice and check that they are speaking to an FCA-authorised adviser, and not to agree to anything they may be unsure of.

“Your favourite team wouldn’t buy a new striker just because his agent says he’s good,” Tyldesley said. “They’d ask around, check out his stats, do some research – just like you should when handling your pension plans.”

Regulators added that football fans were risking an “own goal” by not knowing the value of their pensions pots. Their research showed that while 76% knew the cost of a season ticket or their team’s football shift, only 43% could recall the value of their retirement savings.

Almost half of respondents did not know how to check whether an approach regarding their pension was legitimate. And while 65% said they would be confident they could spot a scam, 39% would unwittingly put themselves at risk by engaging with time limited offers or pursuing a guaranteed high return on their savings.

Charles Counsell, the chief executive of TPR, said: “Scammers wreck lives and no matter how big or small your savings are, every pot is a target. It may seem tempting to make a change to your pension fund now, but it’s important not to rush.

“Before making any decision about your pension, take your time, and visit the ScamSmart website to always check who you are dealing with.”

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