More than one in five over-55s suspect they have been targeted by an investment scam in the past three years, according to research from the City regulator.
A survey of people aged over 55 who have a household income of £30,000 and/or savings of £5,000 found that 22% had been contacted by a person or organisation that they believed to be making a fraudulent investment offer in the last three years.
Among those surveyed who were aged over 75 years old, nearly one in three (32%) believed they had been targeted by an investment scam in the past three years.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), which released the findings, is urging over-55s to take the time to check that investment “opportunities” are legitimate before they hand over their money.
It said that, on average, victims of investment fraud lost £32,000 typically last year.
The new pension freedoms, which give over-55s a wider range of choices over how they use their pension pots, make this group a particularly attractive target for fraudsters.
Low interest rates giving poor returns on savings may also tempt some people to take a risk with their cash, with the promise of better potential returns.
The new research is part of the FCA’s ScamSmart campaign, which helps to protect consumers against investment fraud.
The most common check people tended to carry out before investing in a financial product was to look at a company’s website, the survey found.
But the FCA warned that investment fraudsters and unauthorised firms can create highly professional-looking websites to entice people.
TV presenter Nick Hewer, who is supporting the ScamSmart campaign, said: “I have been targeted by these scammers myself so I’m not surprised to see how many other people have also been approached.