The Pensions Regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority and MAPS issued an unprecedented joint statement urging savers to seek advice before changing their retirement plans due to the Coronavirus outbreak.
They believe fears over the impact of the pandemic on markets and personal finances are making savers more vulnerable to scams or rushed decisions that could “damage their long-term interests.”
The bodies said savers should seek guidance from official sources or take independent financial advice before making any changes.
They urged any pension savers to visit the Pensions Advisory Service website for free pensions guidance before making any decisions about retirement savings.
They have also advised pension savers - including those already retired - to use the ScamSmart website to avoid being ripped off amid signs of an upsurge in pension scams and fraud.
The bodies say that as a result of the pandemic markets have been volatile and are likely to remain so for a while.
The TPR, FCA, MAPS and government departments are working together to tackle any additional risks from the current uncertainty.
Charlotte Jackson, head of pensions operations and consumer protection at MAPS urged consumers: “This is a very worrying time for people. For those on the point of retiring, the impact of the virus on the financial markets and therefore on pension savings has been damaging.
“If you are in a workplace pension, investments are designed to deliver over the long term with measures in place to reduce the risks faced by investors as they approach retirement.
“However, if you have chosen to invest your retirement savings yourself or were looking to retire soon then you may find yourself having to accept a lower income or retiring later. The key thing is to take as much time as you can and try not to panic.
“Most importantly, before taking any major decisions relating to your pension take the time to get independent guidance or advice.”
Mark Steward, FCA’s executive director of enforcement and market oversight said: “Fraudsters will exploit the Coronavirus to prey on anxiety and fear of savers and investors, especially those who may be vulnerable.
“That’s why we’re urging anyone who is thinking about transferring their pension to check who they are dealing with and only use firms authorised by the FCA.”
Charles Counsell, TPR’s chief executive, said in a message to consumers: “Pensions remain a safe long-term investment for your retirement and it’s important to avoid hasty decisions about cash that’s taken a lifetime to build.
“We urge you not to transfer your pension into another arrangement now and regret the decision later. If you’re worried about your pension savings, take the time to understand what options you have available. There is no need to rush.”