‘Worrying!’ Britons issued alert as ‘guaranteed’ investment returns scam targets many

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The idea of a guaranteed return is likely to entice individuals, particularly in the current climate where monetary growth is hard to come by. However, this could be even more of a reason as to why people may fall victim to scams. Research undertaken by Hargreaves Lansdown showed 79 percent of over 55s asked said they had been approached by a scammer in the previous 12 months, but a point of concern was identifying the scam in the first place. More than one in four said they would not be worried by an offer of a guaranteed return until they were offered 10 percent a year or more. Another one in six said they had no idea what kind of guaranteed returns should ring alarm bells.

While older people were found to be particularly good at identifying common scams compared to their younger counterparts, caution must still be exercised.

This is because scammers are changing their methods quickly and are increasingly using social media to target unwitting victims.

Helen Morrissey, senior pensions and retirement analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “As we get older, we’re more and more confident we can spot a scam, but one in four people aged 55 and over would still be convinced by a criminal claiming to offer guaranteed returns of 10 percent.

“This is particularly worrying because this age group is most likely to be targeted by pension scammers. 

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“The Pension Schemes Act will help to better protect people from pension scammers, but we need more from the Online Harms Bill too.

“Scam activity has become so widespread that most people have a story about how they’ve been approached. Increased awareness of scams means the tried and tested methods of offering free pension reviews for instance are more likely to attract suspicion, which is good news.”

However, Ms Morrissey took particular pains to urge Britons to stay alert to more sophisticated scams, such as those which involve the offer of guaranteed returns.

She said that while most people are aware of the fact that if something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is, many are unaware of the particular instances they should be treating with suspicion.

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Guaranteed returns should always be thought about carefully and kept at a distance, especially if it is promising to return more than cash savings.

This is why many Britons who hold pensions are being encouraged to take more time to consider what values they actually hold.

Getting to know one’s pension, Ms Morrissey stressed, alongside inherent risks in investments and potential growth can help individuals be alert to the steps they should be taking, and offers which sound implausible.

It helps to be able to compare one’s savings and the amount they actually have to the supposed offer which is on the table.

Ms Morrissey concluded: “Scammers also adapt to exploit any vulnerability, so we need to know about newer scams, so we can keep our pensions safe. 

“Criminals are now more likely to target people through social media and online advertising. We would like to see more done to make people aware of the potential dangers of being approached in this way.”

There are, however, a number of ways in which Britons can protect themselves from falling victim to a scam, and certain warning signs they should always be aware of.

The first relates to contact which is received out of the blue, which should always be treated with suspicion. In terms of investment offers, Britons should always be wary of a promise of high returns.

Ms Morrissey also warned Britons never to be pressured into making a quick decision on a financial matter. This is because scammers do not want individuals to have any time to think about the offer and its legitimacy. Any reputable provider will always provide Britons with the time to think about the matter.

Scammers are also very good at cloning emails and websites in order to appear as if they are from a legitimate provider. However, there are ways to try to check and do one’s due diligence. 

Britons can check things such as email addresses for spelling errors or strange formats, which can often be sure fire signs a scam is taking place.

In addition, Ms Morrissey also highlighted looking for a company address rather than a PO Box which can also help to determine legitimacy.

Finally, individuals should never be afraid to cut off contact, even if the scammer comes across as charming, pressuring or convincing. This could be as simple as putting the phone down, or stopping email communications with the supposed company. 

Express.co.uk has contacted the Department for Culture, Media and Sport for comment. 



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