Savers have been urged to scam-proof their savings against pension scammers as part of a campaign launched by The Pensions Regulator (TPR).
Ahead of the pension freedoms due to start in April, TPR launched the "Scam-proof your savings" campaign together with other organisations to alert individuals and pension scheme trustees to the risk of scams.
It offers advice for savers on how to spot a scam and what to do if they have been contacted by a suspect organisation. For example, TPR warned savers of common tactics used by scammers such as cold calling, text messaging or website pop-ups offering a "free pension review" or "legal loophole".
The campaign also provides financial advisers and trustees guidance on how to protect members and a "checklist of scam hallmarks" if a member requests to transfer their pensions to another scheme. Questions on the checklist include whether a scheme is sponsored by an employer that is geographically distant from the member and whether promotional materials "hint at unusual, creative or new investment techniques".
The campaign calls on trustees to encourage members to contact Pension Wise to understand their options.
Pensions minister Steve Webb urged savers to contact Pension Wise for guidance and said: "You can spend years saving into a pension only to find yourself tricked out of your money in the blink of an eye by these unscrupulous crooks. We are taking tough action along with our partners to tackle this scourge, but people must be vigilant."
TPR's chief executive Lesley Titcomb also urged people to contact Pension Wise or consult a financial adviser regulated by the FCA before making "an irreversible decision".
Head of Action Fraud, Pauline Smith, said: "Fraudsters are continually looking for new ways to make criminal capital and the new pension reforms could provide them with another avenue to exploit in the coming months."
Michelle Cracknell, chief executive of TPAS, said: "We believe that it is really important that we raise consumer awareness of how people can properly protect their pension savings and make the most of them. By taking certain precautions, pension savers can feel confident that they are safeguarding their financial future."
Meanwhile, the Pension Liberation Industry Group has published Combating Pension Scams: A Code of Good Practice to prevent scams. The publication provides guidance to the pensions industry to help promote good practice.
The group is made up of 17 organisations including the National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF).
Graham Vidler, director of external affairs at NAPF, said: "The code is a significant development in setting the industry standard for due diligence to help trustees and providers assess information provided and determine the risk of a transfer being a scam.
"Trustees and providers must use their best judgment in responding to member requests for transfer, balancing statutory requirements and member protection. From today, the code sets out the principles to follow, together with helpful guidance and example letters to use."