British pension savers lose £31 million to scams since 2017 - regulators

FILE PHOTO: An elderly couple walk past a chip shop in the Springburn area of Glasgow, Scotland, November 5, 2009. Labour loyalists are expected to deliver a comfortable win for Prime Minister Gordon Brown's centre-left party in a by-election in the Glasgow North East parliamentary constituency on Thursday. REUTERS/David Moir

LONDON (Reuters) - British savers have lost 31 million pounds to pension scams since 2017 according to official data but the actual figures are likely to be much higher, British watchdogs said on Tuesday.

Individual losses from pension scams reported to the Action Fraud national reporting centre ranged from less than 1,000 pounds to 500,000 pounds, and the average victim was male and aged in their 50s, the Financial Conduct Authority and The Pensions Regulator said.

The figures are likely to be under-stated because pension savers often don’t recognise when investment schemes are scams, and also do not know how much they have in their pension pots, the regulators said.

British lawmakers last month launched an inquiry into pension scams following a relaxation in pension rules five years ago which increased the scope for fraud, a problem expected to get worse during the coronavirus pandemic.

“During these uncertain times, it is more important than ever to defend your lifetime savings from scammers,” said Mark Steward, Executive Director of Enforcement and Market Oversight at the FCA.

As part of their ScamSmart campaign, the regulators have teamed up with football commentator Clive Tyldesley to encourage pension savers to get regulated advice before switching their pension pots.

“Take your time, seek advice...don’t agree to anything you’re unsure of,” Tyldesley said.

Reporting by Carolyn Cohn, Editing by William Maclean