Visits to the FCA’s Scam Smart website have increased 462 per cent in less than two months following its joint scam awareness campaign with The Pensions Regulator.
The Scam Smart site – which allows people to compare pension fund options and find information on potential scams – previously had an average 562 page views daily.
This rose to an average of 3,145 a day in the 55 days immediately following the summer campaign, the regulators have said.
The regulators’ campaign is calling for people to check pension providers on the FCA Register before agreeing to offers.
People are also being asked to consider getting impartial information and advice before making decisions.
Pensions minister Guy Opperman says: “I would urge savers to always exercise caution and seek independent guidance or advice before making important financial decisions – free, impartial guidance is available from Pension Wise or The Pensions Advisory Service.
“Pension scams are devastating for people and can rob them of the retirement they planned. Raising awareness of how these heartless criminals operate is key to tackling fraud, and the response to this campaign is encouraging.”
The number of visitors to the Scam Smart site also rose from 31,000 in the 55 days prior to the campaign to 173,000 in the same period of time afterward.
The campaign’s success follows the Autumn Budget decision to ban pensions cold calling from early next year.
More than 10m adults in the UK are currently receiving an unsolicited pension offer each year, FCA figures show.
More than half of 45-65-year olds with a pension do not think they are at risk of being targeted, however.
FCA executive director of enforcement and market oversight, Mark Steward says: “Many pension holders believe they are too savvy to be scammed, but pension scams are often very sophisticated and difficult to spot. Scammers will target people from all walks of life and with any size pension.”
A survey commissioned by the regulators in August reveal victims of pension fraud last year lost an average of £91,000 each.
The research also showed 32 per cent of 45-65-year olds are unsure how to check if they are speaking to a legitimate pensions provider or adviser.
TPR executive director of frontline regulation Nicola Parish says the campaign is set to continue in full force next year until cases decrease.
She says: “The dramatic increase in the number of people visiting ScamSsmart for information is encouraging but this is not the end of our campaign. It is vital we continue spreading the word about scammers and how they operate.”
Quilter head of retirement policy Jon Greer says pensions freedoms have inadvertently increased scam risks.
He says: “While people have easier access to their funds, they are also in turn more vulnerable. Scammers now simply have to convince an over 55-year old saver to withdraw their funds and divert this money into other forms investment with the promise of amazing returns.
“[This] never becomes a reality. A pension is something people have worked all their lives to build up but one lapse of judgement could mean that it all vanishes.”
The newly-launched Single Financial Guidance Body will also play a major role in building awareness as the campaign moves into 2019.
Just Group director of retirement Stephen Lowe says: “The SFGB could become the place where most people naturally go to to check their plans and receive the protection to avoid those too good to be true offers.
“We are finally on a clear path to a single, impartial pension guidance service [and] it really needs to become to social norm for it to deliver a comprehensive defense against scams and poor choices.”