Pension advice can be sought from a number of sources and it is often viewed as essential in some circumstances. However, personal pension advice can be mis-sold and fraudulent in nature.
Poor or outright illegal guidance can lead to monetary settlements which can reach up to £350,000 for mis-selling.
Sarah Stokes, a pensions expert, spoke with hundreds of women who were unaware that they could claim compensation.
Her findings led her to request the official compensation figures from the ombudsman and the data revealed some shocking findings.
In 2019, 275 complaints about mis-sold pensions were made and yet only 40 of them came from women.
This, in fraction terms, is less than one in five.
Sarah, who is also the Managing Director of Pension Claim Consulting, commented on the worrying findings: “Critically, women aren’t seeking financial redress when they should.
“It is a situation that has been well known within the pensions industry for some time, but only now have we had the concrete figures which illustrate the problem.
“We would like to see this matter investigated by the financial regulators and at the very least, an awareness campaign put in place.
“Let’s not forget almost half of all personal pensions are held by women, so the disparity between men and women claiming, is quite striking.
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“Over the last few years I’ve lost count of the number of women I’ve spoken with who say they were contacted out of the blue by an adviser who went for the hard sale as soon as they found out they worked in the NHS or teaching profession. Unscrupulous doesn’t cover it.”
Yesterday, it was revealed that the Work and Pensions Committee will be examining how pension freedom rule have impacted scam risks.
The announcement detailed that the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and The Pensions Regulator believe that 180 people reported to Action Fraud that they had been the victim of a pension scam in 2018, losing on average £82,000 each.
They also believe that only a minority of pension scams are ever reported.
Stephen Timms, the Chair of the Committee, also revealed that the inquiry will provide an opportunity for examination of some of the inequality issues identified.
As he commented: “We don’t know how many scam sales are made to women as opposed to men.
“We need to know how to find that out. The figure of 17 per cent for claims [to the Financial Ombudsman] for mis-sold pensions looks troubling
“To me it sounds useful to gender monitor for pension mis-selling and compensation applications. If it is the case that women are taking less advantage than they should of the help that the Financial Ombudsman Service provides, then it is certainly something we should look at in the course of our inquiry.”
The inquiry announcement also revealed that victims of scams can seek support from the following institutions:
- Victims can contact Victim Support or Think Jessica if a scam has made them feel anxious, fearful or guilty. They provide emotional and practical help to victims of crimes and scams.
- Victims can contact the 24-hour Samaritans helpline on 116 123 if they feel low or anxious and need someone to talk to.
- Victims can contact Citizens Advice if they’re having trouble paying their bills and are worried about what to do.
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