Regulator 'alert to pension scams'

Cash in a man's hand Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The pension changes will allow people to take their pension savings as cash

A regulator has vowed to be on the lookout for fraud and scams when new pension freedoms come into force in April.

Martin Wheatley, chief executive of the Financial Conduct Authority, said he expected con-artists to strike when the reforms were still new.

"Scams and fraud, we know, tend to proliferate at the moment of maximum uncertainty," he said in a speech.

New rules, making it easier to access pension pots, take effect on 6 April.

Those aged 55 and over will be able to spend their defined contribution pension savings as they wish, unless they have already bought an annuity, or retirement income.

Previous pension fraud has centred on persuading people to "liberate" their pensions before the age of 55, and Mr Wheatley said this was likely to continue.

"A particular risk, given that many of those approaching retirement today will - unlike their parents' generation - be carrying debts with them," he said.

However, criminals have already started to bombard people aged 55 and over who are approaching retirement with phone calls and text messages ahead of the April changes.

Pensions analysts last week warned that the pension changes could prompt an "open season" for fraudsters.

The government's own guidance service is called Pension Wise.

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