Pension savers claim over £30 million lost to scams as regulators urge footie fans to show scammers the red card

• Putting time pressure on pension transfers continues to be a key tactic for scammers
• Many know more about football finances than their own lifetime savings
• FCA and TPR team up with legendary football commentator Clive Tyldesley to show there is no transfer deadline for pensions

A total of £30,857,329 has been reportedly lost to pension scammers since 2017 according to complaints filed with Action Fraud, says the Financial Conduct Authority and The Pensions Regulator.

Scammers targeted pension pots big and small, with reported losses ranging from under £1,000 to as much as £500,000 and the average victim being a man in his 50s.

But the true number of victims is likely to be much higher as savers fail to spot the signs of a scam and don’t know how much is in their pots.

New research shows that’s particularly true for football fans approaching retirement, with just 43% knowing how much is in their pot and nearly half (45%) not knowing how to check if an approach about their pension is legitimate*. 

Scammers design attractive offers to persuade you to transfer your pension pot to them, often setting ‘time-limited offers’ or deadlines to pressure you into releasing your money. 

That’s why, as part of their ScamSmart campaign, the regulators have teamed up with legendary football commentator Clive Tyldesley (aged 65) who said: “Scammers are very good at breaking down your defences and putting you under pressure with various deadlines. But your pension isn’t a football transfer – there are no deadlines! Your favourite team wouldn't buy a new striker just because his agent says he's good. They’d ask around, check out his stats, do some research – just like you should when handling your pension plans. Before you fall foul to savvy scammers, remember to take your time, seek advice, and speak to an FCA authorised adviser. Don't agree to anything you’re unsure of.”

Fans are also risking an own goal by not knowing the value of their most prized asset. 76% know the cost of items related to their team, such as a football shirt or season ticket etc., but only 43% knew how much was currently in their pension pot**. 

Overconfidence could be an issue with nearly two thirds (65%) saying they’d be confident in spotting a scam approach. But 4 in 10 (39%) would put themselves at risk unknowingly by engaging with a common scam tactic such as being told it’s a time-limited offer, or that there is a guaranteed high return on their savings.

Mark Steward, Executive Director of Enforcement and Market Oversight, FCA, said: “During these uncertain times, it is more important than ever to defend your lifetime savings from scammers. Fraudsters will seek out every opportunity to exploit innocent people, no matter how much or how little you have saved. You can check the status of a firm before changing your pension by visiting the FCA register, and get advice from an FCA authorised firm before making any changes to your pension. And give scammers the boot!”

Charles Counsell, Chief Executive, TPR, said: “Scammers wreck lives and no matter how big or small your savings are, every pot is a target. It may seem tempting to make a change to your pension fund now, but it’s important not to rush. Before making any decision about your pension, take your time, and visit the ScamSmart website to always check who you are dealing with.” 

How fans can stop themselves scoring a pensions own goal

The regulators recommend four simple steps to protect yourself from pension scams:

1.    Don’t be rushed or pressured into making any decision about your pension
2.    Reject unexpected pension offers whether made online, on social media or over the phone
3.    Check who you’re dealing with before changing your pension arrangements – check the Financial Services Register or call the FCA helpline on 0800 111 6768 to see if the firm you are dealing with is authorised by the FCA
4.    Consider getting impartial information and advice 

Pension savers can test how ScamSmart they are by taking a quiz on the ScamSmart site. Visit to find out more.

* Based on respondents not agreeing with the statements ‘I understand when I can access my pension’ and ‘I know how much money I have in my pension pot‘. Also ‘I know how much money I have in my pension pot‘ based on respondents who have a private pension.
** Based on respondents who agreed with the statement, ‘I know how much money I have in my pension pot’
Also based on respondents who have a private pension.

Notes to editors

1. Since April 2017, pension scam losses totalling £30,857,329 have been reported to Action Fraud. The true number of victims is likely to be higher as scams often go unreported and those affected may not realise they have been scammed for several years. Action Fraud reporting is a self-reporting tool; information provided within Action Fraud reports may not have been verified by law enforcement or interrogated for authenticity or accuracy and may be subject to discrepancies. 

2. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from Censuswide, with 2000 Respondents aged 45-65 between 15.07.2020 - 17.07.2020 including 1261 football fans. Censuswide abide by and employ members of the Market Research Society which is based on the ESOMAR principles.

3. The latest ScamSmart pension scams advertising campaign launched on 1 July. The advertising includes TV, radio, online video, and paid search.

4. The ScamSmart website,, gives consumers tips on how to spot the techniques used by fraudsters and hosts the FCA Warning List. The Warning List is a list of firms and individuals that the FCA knows are operating without its authorisation. The web tool helps members of the public search this list, find out more about the risks associated with an investment or pension opportunity and the steps they can take to avoid scams.

5. A ban on pension cold calling came into force last year. Firms that break the rules could face penalties of up to half a million pounds.

6. The FCA and TPR are members of Project Bloom. Bloom was created in 2012 and brings together government departments, agencies, regulators, law enforcement bodies and representatives of the pension industry to tackle pension scams. The partners are The Pensions Regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority, the Department for Work and Pensions, HM Treasury, the Serious Fraud Office, City of London Police, the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, Action Fraud, the Pensions Advisory Service, the Pensions Scams Industry Group, the Money Advice Service, the Information Commissioner’s Office, the Insolvency Service, Pension Wise, National Trading Standards and the National Crime Agency.

7. On 1 April 2013, the FCA became responsible for the conduct supervision of all regulated financial firms and the prudential supervision of those not supervised by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA).

8. The FCA has an overarching strategic objective of ensuring the relevant markets function well. To support this, it has three operational goals: to secure an appropriate degree of protection for consumers; to protect and enhance the integrity of the UK financial system, and to promote effective competition in the interests of consumers. Find out more information about the FCA.

9. TPR is the regulator of work-based pension schemes in the UK. Our statutory objectives are: to protect members’ benefits; to reduce the risk of calls on the Pension Protection Fund (PPF); to promote, and to improve understanding of, the good administration of work-based pension schemes; to maximise employer compliance with automatic enrolment duties; and to minimise any adverse impact on the sustainable growth of an employer (in relation to the exercise of the regulator’s functions under Part 3 of the Pensions Act 2004 only).