Pension scam victims could lose an average of 22 years of savings in 24 hours, according to research by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and The Pensions Regulator (TPR).
As part of the regulators' joint ScamSmart campaign, to encourage people to protect their savings, research has revealed it could take a saver 22 years to build a pension pot of £82,000. This was the average amount victims lost to scams in 2018.
Nearly one in four people (24%) surveyed admitted to taking 24 hours or less to decide on a pension offer.
Even though 63% said they are confident in deciding about their pension, the same proportion would trust someone offering pensions advice out of the blue.
TPR and the FCA also found that those with a university degree are 40% more likely to accept a free pension review from a company they have not dealt with before and 21% more likely to take up the offer of early access to their pension pot.
FCA executive director of enforcement and market oversight Mark Steward said pension scammers destroy retirement dreams.
"Reject unsolicited approaches offering ‘help' with your pension and get advice from an FCA authorised firm before making big changes to your pension fund," he urged.
TPR executive director of frontline regulation said: "Once you sign on the dotted line, often there's no second chance. Scams can happen to anyone, so before making any decision about your pension, take your time, be ScamSmart and always check who you are dealing with."
Aegon head of pensions Kate Smith said it is tempting to dismiss scams as something that can only happen to other people but the one thing scammers do not do is discriminate.
"Fraudsters are increasingly sophisticated and will re-invent their approach, but while it may appear that they to want to help you, their only motivation is helping themselves to your pension savings. And being caught out and losing your pension is devastating.
Meanwhile, AJ Bell senior analyst Tom Selby said: "The results of scams are often heartbreaking, with thousands of people losing pensions they have worked their entire lives to diligently build up.
"In many cases, victims are left with little or nothing to fall back on, and have to face up to working longer or living in penury in retirement."
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