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Column 7th March 2018

If pensions advice looks too good to be true, it will be

According to recent press reports people with nest eggs to invest, including those who can now access their pensions, are falling for well-resourced foreign fraudsters impersonating the identities of legitimate companies.

Investigations into “clone fraud” have almost doubled over the past year, according to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the City’s chief watchdog, with some victims losing hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Almost £200 million has been stolen by investment fraudsters in the UK over the past year, although this is thought to grossly underestimate the true scale of the problem because many victims are too ashamed to report the crime. In some cases, the sums lost have exceeded £250,000.

So please be careful if you are contacted with an investment opportunity. If it sounds too good to be true – it probably is too good to be true.

I have also been contacted by several local people who are finding problems with their pensions, in particular members of the Atomic Energy Authority Technology (AEAT) Pension scheme.

When it was privatised in 1996, its 3,000 or so employees were transferred from the UKAEA’s public sector pension schemes to a private sector scheme sponsored by their new employer.

When they transferred, those employees were given a choice about whether to leave the pension they had already built up before privatisation in the UKAEA’s schemes or transfer it across to their new private sector scheme with an Act of Parliament stating that the new AEAT Pension Scheme must be ‘no less favourable’ than the UKAEA Scheme.

AEAT subsequently entered administration in November 2012 and the pension scheme became part of the Pension Protection Fund (PPF). As a result members of the AEAT Pension Scheme saw significant reductions in the value of the pension they had built up.

In particular, the value of any pension accrued before April 1997 (including all pension transferred into the scheme from the UKAEA’s pension schemes) was significantly impacted because under the PPF rules, this element of the pension would not attract inflation-linked increases in retirement.

Obviously this affects many of the pensioners living around this area and as inflation is beginning to increase this will impact their pensions even more.

There have even been parliamentary debates about this but the Government is denying all responsibility for the advice given to people at that time.

So beware of all investment advice – including that from the government!


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