24th September 2014 at 8:10am
Fraud is on the increase. With millions in the UK affected every year, and around 4.3 million people
becoming victims of ID fraud alone, the statistics can be worrying.
We take the issue of fraud very seriously and are constantly looking at new and better ways to help safeguard our customers.
The best way you can protect yourself is to keep alert at all time and take simple and effective steps to keep ahead of any would-be fraudsters.
Easy ways to keep your savings and investments safe
It seems obvious, but keep your financial details secure and don’t write down or share passwords or log-ins. Don’t reply to emails or phone calls asking for personal or financial information or suggesting you need to transfer funds to another account, even if the request seems believable. That unsolicited email could take you straight to a fake website which may look real but you could end up speaking with, or emailing, another person involved in the fraud.
Protect your pension from ‘liberation schemes’
Then there’s the rise of so-called liberation schemes which offer to unlock cash from pensions well before savers reach retirement age, even if they are in their 30s or 40s. The offer of turning savings into hard cash looks too good to be true – and it is.
These usually involve transferring your pension savings to another scheme to allow you to access funds early. The companies arranging this make money by charging you a fee or taking money from your savings.
According to the Pension Regulator, liberation schemes have already cost savers upwards of £500m. Some people have lost their entire pension savings worth several hundred thousand pounds and still face hefty tax bills, which they are liable for.According to the Pension Regulator, liberation schemes have already cost savers upwards of £500m. Some people have lost their entire pension savings worth several hundred thousand pounds and still face hefty tax bills, which they are liable for.
The reality is that pensions are tax-efficient savings and the taxman will still want his due share if rules are broken, which is what these companies are suggesting. Even if the ‘liberation’ company is legitimate, and not all of them are, savers could be left with little, if anything, once tax, fees and large pension liberation costs are taken into account.
We’re committed to preventing our customers from falling victim to these schemes and we will not transfer payments where we believe liberation is involved. HMRC is so concerned about these schemes that it has already closed down hundreds of them but more have sprung up in their place.
If you have a plan with us and a pension liberation company contacts you direct, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us or speak with your IFA.
To help our employees and our customers, Standard Life is a member of the Government’s Get Safe Online initiative, which is running a ‘Don’t Be a Victim’ week starting on 20 October. For free, useful advice on how to avoid becoming a victim of fraud, go to www.getsafeonline.org
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This blog and any responses are not financial advice.