Self-Invested Personal Pension (SIPP) - Scam issue

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A SIPP is basically a DIY pension – you choose how your savings are invested and have full control over them. With a SIPP, you have a much wider range of options available to you. However, with any investment comes risk – and you stand to lose money from your pension fund. There are also charges associated with SIPPs, and these may be particularly high if you choose to invest in property or other specialist investments.

There are, unfortunately, a large number of frauds circulating that aim to trick you into handing over your savings. Pension scams will often be offered to you by text, phone call or email – and you should be careful of anyone personally approaching you about your pension without prior warning. Scammers often promise high rates of return through “overseas investments” and similar schemes, but aim to pressure you into transferring your savings over to them!

If you believe you’ve been targeted by a scam, you should contact your pension provider immediately. Hopefully, they have not yet completed the transfer and can stop the funds from being moved over. You should then contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 to report the incident.

Unfortunately, if the transfer has gone through it might be very difficult to get your money back. Contacting Action Fraud is a good first step to take, after which it may be advisable to seek financial advice – the Pensions Advisory Service provides a good source of advice that may be able to help you through this difficult time. You should also consider contacting Pension Wise or Citizens Advice for free and impartial guidance.

You should know

Your rights

When you sign up to a scheme, you have the right to information about what you’ve signed up to – and you shouldn’t have to ask for it.

Your provider should tell you about:

  • The basic details of the scheme
  • The way the scheme works
  • How you can leave the scheme
  • The date the scheme will begin to pay out
  • How much you’ll have to pay
  • Exactly who is providing the scheme 

You should periodically receive a statement showing information about your contributions and the state of your pension.

You have the right to leave your scheme, and your provider should give you details of your rights and options when you choose to do so. They should do this within two months of you stopping your contributions. 

You can contribute to as many personal pension plans as you want to – provided you stay within the annual contribution limits. However, you can’t contribute to a workplace pension plan and a personal pension plan in the same year.

You will normally have the right to transfer your pension out of your previous scheme up until a year before you retire.

Who to complain to?

Depending on the nature of your complaint, your issue may need to go either the Financial Ombudsman or the Pensions Advisory Service and Pensions Ombudsman – it can get fairly complicated, but generally speaking the rules are as follows:

Complaints about personal (private) pensions and mis-sold schemes will go to the Financial Ombudsman. These include your SIPPS and Income Drawdown schemes etc. Complaints about workplace and government/state pensions go to the Pensions Advisory Service and Pensions Ombudsman.

Seems simple enough, but there's an exception. Any complaints about mismanagement or administration of a pension will go through the Pensions Advisory Service and Pensions Ombudsman – even if they're about a personal pension.

This can be confusing, but don't worry! The Financial Ombudsman and Pensions Advisory Service work together to direct your complaints to the right place. This means you'll be sure to get your issue heard, regardless of where it's sent.

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