37% of UK adults targeted by a scam during lockdown

Thirty-seven per cent of adults in the UK believe they have been targeted by a scam or fraud since lockdown started on 23 March, new research from AJ Bell has revealed.

Based on a recent survey of 2,031 people, the figure increased to 45% for those aged between 55 and 64.

The investment platform suggested this trend shows that scammers are targeting those who have recently gained access to their pension savings.

“The financial uncertainty created by the COVID-19 crisis is like blood in the water for scammers, with a huge proportion of the UK population believing that they have been targeted during lockdown,” commented AJ Bell senior analyst, Tom Selby.

“Over a fifth of people have already been made financially worse off during COVID-19 and as the government prepares to end the furlough scheme, millions more people will face the prospect of unemployment, losing their main source of income and staring down the barrel of serious financial hardship.

“Such turmoil will inevitably see more people targeted by scammers, with their hard-earned retirement pots likely to be a prime focus.”

AJ Bell has set out new recommendations that the government and regulators can take the fight to pension scammers, and suggested that tackling online fraud, improving monitoring and reporting of scam activity, and giving schemes power to block suspect transfers are all key to protecting retirement savers.

“In this environment it is absolutely vital policymakers, enforcement agencies and the wider pensions industry redouble efforts to tackle the scourge of fraud,” Selby added.

“While clearly the priority for government is dealing with the second spike of the pandemic, it is also important to ensure a protective ring is placed around vulnerable savers.”

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