Scammers may:

  • downplay the risks to your money – they might say you will own actual assets you can sell to make back any losses or use legal jargon to suggest the investment is very safe
  • promise tempting returns that sound too good to be true, such as better interest rates than elsewhere, or
  • say that they’re only making the offer available to you or even ask you not to tell anyone else about the opportunity.

Signs that someone you know might be a target

Your suspicions should be raised if someone you know:

  • talks about exciting “business opportunities”
  • spends a lot of time sending and receiving emails, or
  • makes frequent online payments.



  • Reject all unsolicited contact about pensions and investments. If you’re contacted out of the blue about an investment opportunity, chances are it’s a high-risk investment or a scam.
  • If you get cold-called, the safest thing to do is to hang up. If you get unexpected offers by email or text, it’s best to ignore them.
  • Don’t be rushed into making a decision – especially if they claim it is a time-limited offer that won’t be around for much longer.
  • Check to see if the investment firm or adviser is authorised on the Financial Services Register.
  • Check the Financial Conduct Authority Warning List tool to see if the investment opportunity on offer is a scam – this is a list of firms that the FCA knows is operating without permission or running scams.
  • Don’t let a friend talk you into an investment – check everything yourself. People have fallen for scams because a friend had recommended them.  Do your homework, even if you believe yourself or your friend to be financially savvy.  False confidence can lead to getting stung, and with a pension, it might be years before you discover you’ve been scammed.


  • The Little Booklet of Investment Scams (
  • The Financial Conduct Authority runs a campaign called ScamSmart, which helps people identify fraudulent investment or pension opportunities.  There’s a handy quiz as well as a range of leaflets, posters, videos, infographics and other resources.
  • Action Fraud’s the Devil’s in the Details has a useful video about Investment Fraud.
  • The Pensions Regulator has published a leaflet warning about the signs of pension scams and giving five top tips on how to protect yourself.  You can download it here.