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Personal Finance: Beware this coronavirus pension scam

Carl Lamb (inset) on how pension scammers are capitalising on coronavirus uncertainty. Picture: Smith and pinching/Getty

Carl Lamb (inset) on how pension scammers are capitalising on coronavirus uncertainty. Picture: Smith and pinching/Getty

Smith and pinching/Getty

Our reader has had an email saying their pension is in danger - they ask Carl Lamb of Smith and Pinching what to do.

Reader question:

I’ve had an email from a well-known insurance company to say that my current pension arrangements are in danger because of the current Coronavirus situation and the way the stock market has fallen.

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They say I should move my pension over to them so that they can invest it directly in companies that will be doing well in the crisis – food production, drug companies etc.

I don’t know how they got my details – my pension isn’t with them – but it does sound like a good idea as I’m sure that type of company will be doing OK. What should I do?

Smith and pinching response:

Please delete this email and do nothing!

It sounds to me like this is one of the many scams that is currently circulating.

Scammers find it relatively easy to make their emails look like they are coming from a valid source but, if you responded, your reply would be going somewhere completely different.

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Fraudsters are targeting the inevitable nervousness about our pensions and investments we’re all experiencing at the moment. However, this is not the time to be making rash decisions with existing investments: most clients who invest in equities are doing so for the medium to long term and so unless there is a real need to capitalise the investment at a particular point in time, we would normally recommend to wait until markets recover before moving money around.

Reputable investment or pension companies won’t be doing this sort of random marketing at a time of crisis, if ever.

A rule of thumb is that if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is!

The things to watch out for are contacts that come out of the blue (like the one you’ve received) and offers that promise better performance using pension transfers, high-return investment opportunities or health insurance supplements.

If you suspect that something isn’t genuine, trust your instincts and delete the email you’ve received. If you do want to contact a pension provider, go to their website and use the contact details provided there.

Never, never click on a link in an email.

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Telephone scams about investments and pensions in the COVID-19 crisis have also been on the rise. The same advice applies here: never give out any of your personal or financial information over the phone, even if the caller says they are from your bank, pension provider, the taxman or other Government agency.

Cold calling is banned in financial services so any unsolicited call is illegal and therefore likely to be a fraud.

Any opinions expressed in this article do not constitute advice.

The value of an investment and the income from it could go down as well as up.

The return at the end of the investment period is not guaranteed and you may get back less than you originally invested.


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