Neston & Beyond: Be Warned & Be Wise.

Some of you will know I spend a fair bit of time administering deceased estates, and as you might imagine, this often involves getting hold of death certificates. Once, I rang a Register Office to request a death certificate and I was asked “Is it your own?”. I’ve just remembered this and thought it was worth sharing.

Be Warned.
The changes to the rules on how you may access your pension funds from next year raise the concern that many people will fall victim to bad decisions, lousy advice and in many cases plain fraud.

The Financial Conduct Authority and The Pensions Regulator have warned of pension scams after uncovering evidence of cold-callers offering a “free pension review”. It is reported these callers claim to be calling on behalf of a government operation such as Money Advice Service or Financial Conduct Authority.

The scam is taking advantage of the much publicised ‘free guidance’ for all, which hasn’t even started yet. The victims are usually ‘sold’ (conned) into unsuitable transfers into high risk funds, or at worst,  ‘Pension Liberation’ schemes that incur huge commissions & fees and big tax bills to boot. Many cold calls lead to a visit from an ‘introducer’, offering a free pension review. These people are not regulated nor authorised, but are persuasive unscrupulous individuals after your money.

I quote Andrew Warwick-Thompson, a director of The Pensions Regulator writing in the press this week: “Put simply, a lifetime’s savings can be lost in a moment.  Our advice to individuals is to be on your guard and don’t get suckered….In the course of our work to disrupt pension scams, we’ve learned of some genuinely troubling cases – of people who face losing their home and being plunged into debt, and of desperate people who have been left suicidal….You could be left with nothing for retirement, you will not be compensated, and you may have to pay fees and a high tax charge. The only people who benefit financially from the arrangements are the scammers themselves.” Be Warned.

Be Wise.
There are those on very low incomes who struggle to meet ends meet, but there are many on higher incomes who have problems also. Nowadays, cost of housing, be it rent or mortgage has increased to be more than 50% of take home pay, up from around 30% not that long ago; and this obviously has an impact. If you find you’re running out of money, and you don’t know where it’s gone, try and adopt ‘wise spending’ habits.

Here’s one way of doing this. Work out how much you earn per hour, ‘take home’ after deductions of tax, national insurance pension contributions etc. Memorise this figure, and every time you think of spending, equate the cost to how much you have to work to pay for that item. Say the figure is £10 per hour, and you see a new television that you fancy costing £350, this is 35 hours work. 35 hours, a working week pretty much, sitting in an office, on a shop floor, driving, what ever it is you do, just for that gadget. Is it worth it?

Bye for now.

John.

http://tinyurl.com/MAS-Pension-Scam

‘Money Advice Service’ is not an advice service, but an information and sometimes ‘guidance’ service set up by Government but entirely funded by a mandatory levy on financial advisers and financial services companies. The new pensions guidance commencing next year will also be funded by an additional levy.