Business

Degree-educated savers 'at risk of fraud'

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Image caption Pensions have been stolen or put into high-risk schemes

Degree-educated savers are more at risk of losing their pension to fraudsters than those without the qualification, a survey by regulators has suggested.

Fraudsters often target those with larger pension pots, but also find a route to their victims by offering "free pension reviews".

Some 14% of people with a degree told regulators they would accept a review from a company they did not know.

Actual pension scam victims lost an average of £82,000 last year.

It would typically take somebody 22 years to build a pension pot of that level, according to the Financial Conduct Authority and The Pensions Regulator.

Pension scams start with an unexpected call, text, social media approach or email - offering a free pension review, or a way to make attractive returns on pension savings.

But the money may be simply stolen or transferred into a high-risk scheme completely inappropriate for retirement savings.

Many offer eye-catching returns or high-rolling investments in hotels or green energy schemes that never materialise, or instead lead to losses.

In the survey of 2,000 people, 10% of those without a degree said they would accept such an approach, a lower proportion than those with the qualification.

Nicola Parish, from The Pensions Regulator, said: "Pension scammers ruin lives, stealing away decades-worth of savings with professional-looking websites, 'expert' advice and an easy manner making it tough to spot the fraud.

"But once you sign on the dotted line, often there's no second chance."

In January, the government introduced a ban on unsolicited calls offering pension "deals" of this kind. Any firm found flouting the rules faces a fine of up to £500,000, but experts suggest fraudsters may ignore the ban.

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