A SCAM alert has been issued to pension savers in Southampton.

Pension regulators are warning residents in the city about six common scams fraudsters are using to con people out of their retirement savings.

It comes as figures, released on behalf of The Pensions Regulator (TPR), show that half of Southampton residents surveyed could fall foul of fraudsters.

And the data shows that even those who consider themselves financially savvy are still at risk.

Now bosses at the TPR say they have teamed up once more with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to warn residents of potential pension pitfalls.

The collaboration is the latest phase of their ongoing ScamSmart campaign.

The campaign urges pension savers to be ScamSmart and to check who they are dealing with before making any decision on their pension.

The campaign warns that cold-callers, free pension reviews, claims of guaranteed high returns, exotic investments, time-limited offers, and access to cash before the age of 55 could all tempt savers into gambling away their retirement income.

And they say in 2018 that the pensioners who fell foul of pension scams lost an average of £82,000.

Nicola Parish, Executive Director of Frontline Regulation, TPR, said: "Scammers don’t care who they prey on or how many lives they wreck. If you ignore the warning signs you put yourself at risk of losing your savings.

“Victims are left devastated by what has happened to them. Make sure neither you nor any of your loved ones have to go through that ordeal.”

Mark Steward, Executive Director of Enforcement and Market Oversight, FCA, said:

“It doesn’t matter the size of your pension pot – scammers are after your savings. Get to know the warning signs, and before making any decision about your pension, be ScamSmart and check you are dealing with an FCA authorised firm.”

How do UK pension savers fare when faced with six common scam tactics?

1. Offering unusual investment opportunities - 23% of 45-65-year-old pension savers would pursue an offer of high returns in either overseas properties, renewable energy bonds, forestry, storage units or biofuels, even though these are high-risk investments and unlikely to be suitable for pension savings.

2. Offering early access to your pension pot – 17% of 45-54-year-old pension savers would be interested in a company that offered to get them early access to their pension pot.

3. Guaranteed high returns on your pension savings – 13% of 45-65-year-old pension savers would pursue an offer guaranteeing returns of 11% on their pension savings.

4. Calls out of the blue – 23% of 45-65-year-old pension savers would engage with a cold call from a company asking to discuss their pension plans, by asking for website details, requesting further information or finding out what they’re offering.

5. Offering to review your pension for free – 10% of 45-65-year-old pension savers would say yes to a free pension review from a company they’d never dealt with before.

6. Time-limited offers – 7% of 45-65-year-old pension savers would say yes to a company who offered a special deal that won't be around for long and offered to send a courier to sign the paperwork immediately.

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

1. Reject unexpected pension offers whether made online, on social media or over the phone

2. Check who you’re dealing with before changing your pension arrangements – check the FCA Register or call the FCA contact centre on 0800 111 6768 to see if the firm you are dealing with is authorised by the FCA

3. Don’t be rushed or pressured into making any decision about your pension

4. Consider getting impartial information and advice

Pension savers can test how ScamSmart they are by taking a new quiz on the ScamSmart site. Visit www.fca.org.uk/scamsmart to find out more.