A Truro-based pensions specialist has warned the public to be on their guard after receiving a suspicious, unsolicited telephone call offering guidance on unlocking his wife’s pension.
Stephen Watson, managing director of chartered financial planner, Watson French, received the cold call to his mobile phone, asking for his wife. Upon realising that they were talking to a specialist in pensions, the caller quickly ended the call.
The Information Commissioner’s Office recently reported that details of millions of people’s pensions were being unlawfully sold to third parties, ahead of new rules which came into effect on April 6, enabling people aged 55 and over to access their pension pot.
Watson said the caller tried to sound official, and that there is a real risk that members of the public could mistake fraudsters for the Government’s free, impartial guidance service, Pension Wise.
He explained: “It was lucky, really. I’ve decades of experience in personal and workplace pensions, so I could tell straight away the call wasn’t right. The caller got quite a shock when I started asking pointed questions, and the conversation ended pretty quickly after that.
“People over 55 need to be aware that a great deal of pensions data has already been sold to third parties, so it’s very likely they’ll receive a call soon offering pensions ‘guidance’.
“In finance, there’s a vast difference between ‘guidance’ and ‘advice’ — pensions advice is regulated, but guidance is not, and it’s not protected against fraud.
“To be clear, the Government’s guidance service is not about to phone you to discuss your pension – so if you get an unsolicited call, be very wary indeed.”