More than 240,600 savers have lost an estimated £14.6bn of pension savings to fraudsters, but a further £2.5trn remains potentially accessible to criminals, The People's Pension (TPP) says.
Results of a TPP survey conducted by YouGov, released yesterday (2 December), assumed the £14.6bn estimation based on an average pension pot size of £60,700.
More than half (54%) of surveyed savers said they had received an unsolicited call, text, email, or letter from someone they believed was trying to scam them financially, while one in 11 has received this contact specifically regarding pension savings.
With £2.5trn of pension savings potentially accessible to criminals, there is plenty for them to target
TPP director of policy Phil Brown said: "Our estimate for the number of victims suggests that some of the figures currently put forward for losses to pension fraud are underestimates.
"While £14.6bn is a large number, fraudsters will only want more and with £2.5trn of pension savings potentially accessible to criminals, there is plenty for them to target. This is a crime which causes untold misery and has the potential to wreck lives."
Brown has now called for "a joined-up approach" from the industry to tackle scams efficiently.
"We want to see a broader definition of pension fraud to ensure that crime data provides an accurate picture, the establishment of a central intelligence database, not to mention more support for victims," he said.
The mounting concerns around scams this year, specifically in the wake of Covid-19, saw the Work and Pensions Committee dedicate the first phase of its three-part inquiry into pension freedoms specifically to scam investigation.
An All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Pension Scams was officially launched on 11 September, while The Pensions Regulator launched an initiative last month encouraging trustees to commit to a step up in processes to protect member interests.
PensionBee research earlier this year showed two-thirds of savers failed to identify most common scams, while ActionFraud noted 11,000 coronavirus-themed finance scams - the most common of which related to pensions - in the first four months of the pandemic.
Further protection for savers is expected under the impending Pension Schemes Act, with pensions and financial inclusion minister Guy Opperman confirming the legislation will help crack down on "crooks".
Writing for PP, he said: "The government, regulators and enforcement agencies will continue to work together to shield savers from these callous crooks, allowing people to plan for their retirement knowing there are mechanisms in place to protect them.
"No-one should lose the retirement they want because of scams, so it is only right that savers can plan ahead knowing their hard-earned pension pot is safe."
This article was first published by our sister title Professional Pensions