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Nine in ten people hit by email scams every month

As many as nine in ten people said they are receiving at least one dodgy email a month that’s evaded their spam filters, new Which? research on email scams has found. Our research also found that more than half of people are getting as many as five scam emails a month in their inbox, with many claiming to be from trusted services and legitimate brands. The research highlights how common the problem of bogus phishing emails is.

And, with many appearing to be from what look like reputable sources, they can all too often trick people into losing money or giving away personal information. Positively, almost all of respondents were able to spot at least one tell-tale sign in a scam email, but only around two in five look out for any links to dodgy websites included in the email or look to see if the branding is any different than usual. The research showed that while overall only 3% of people lost money to a scam email, on average women ended up parting with more than double the amount of money as their male counterparts.

Women lost ?2,186 on average, while men lost ?975 on average. If you’ve lost money to a scam your next steps will depend on how you were parted from your cash[1].

Impersonating trusted brands

Fake emails impersonating PayPal top the list of the most common phishing scams, with 56% of respondents saying they had received an email claiming to be from the payments company. Trusted services and brands impersonated by scammers include PayPal, banks, HMRC and Apple (including iTunes).

Nearly a third of respondents also reported that they’d received emails from a stranger asking for money.

Bogus phishing emails all too common

And, while most people are likely to delete dodgy emails and some mark them as spam, almost one in four of today’s centennials (18-21 year olds) did nothing with the scam email they received – a much higher proportion than the national average of just 4%. Alex Neill, Managing Director of Home Products and Services at Which? said: ‘Bogus phishing emails that look like they are from reputable sources are all too common and can trick people into giving away personal information, and in some cases losing money.

‘Our research shows it’s often the youngest consumers that are most at risk of opening these emails and that they are also less likely to do something about a scam email. Our top tips guide on how to spot an email scam[2] is available for free on our website to help consumers stay ahead of the scammers’ tactics and reduce the risk of them becoming a victim of fraud.’

Stay vigilant and take action to tackle fraud

Which? is warning consumers to be vigilant and take action, to reduce the risk of them becoming a victim of fraud.

To help consumers stay safe online, Which? has produced a free online guide full of tips to help people spot an email scam here. Which? is calling on the Government to set out an ambitious agenda to tackle fraud[3], publish an update on the progress of the Joint Fraud Taskforce and outline what action it will urgently take to safeguard consumers from scams. This research was carried out by Populus on behalf of Which?.

They contacted 2,114 adults via an online poll in June 2017.

The data is weighted to be nationally representative of the UK.


  1. ^ your next steps will depend on how you were parted from your cash (
  2. ^ guide on how to spot an email scam (
  3. ^ Which? is calling on the Government to set out an ambitious agenda to tackle fraud (

Athletes given the mortgage red card by TSB

Professional sportspeople are facing a home defeat, with a major lender announcing it will no longer let them apply for mortgages. TSB has become the first high street lender to stop offering mortgages to professional athletes. While this won’t be a problem for Usain Bolt or Neymar, it could cause a headache for sportspeople with lower earnings, especially if other lenders follow suit.

Here, you can find out about the why TSB has decided to stop lending to this group of people and and learn how you can get a mortgage if you are self-employed and have an inconsistent income.

Athletes face extra hurdles when buying a home

Many athletes retire from their sport by their mid-thirties – or significantly earlier if they suffer a serious injury. TSB stated that professional sportspeople are too much of a risk due to the insecurity of their incomes and their early retirement age. While the bank’s decision doesn’t apply to coaches or personal trainers, it will affect all professional sportspeople, whether they are employed by a company or self-employed.

A TSB spokesperson told Which?: ‘Providing residential mortgages to professional sport players forms a very small part of TSB’s mortgage business and, based on our experience to date, these are not typically customers that TSB can support.’

Specialist mortgages for sportspeople

In 2015, Market Harborough Building Society announced a ‘professional athlete mortgage’. The deal required a deposit of 30% and allowing fee-free overpayments of up to 20% each year, to provide athletes with the opportunity to repay their loan faster when they were in their earnings peak. Two years on, however, the deal is no longer available – and there are no other specialist mortgages for sportspeople on the market.

How to get a mortgage if you’re a sportsperson

It’s important to remember that TSB is the only high street lender to stop sportspeople applying for mortgages so far, and there are still options out there.

David Blake of Which? Mortgage Advisers says: ‘Sports professionals potentially present a risk to lenders as it can be difficult to make a judgement on the sustainability of their income moving forward.’ ‘That said, with scientific advances, many professionals are able to compete over a longer period of time, and there are lots of lenders who are receptive to sports professionals applying for mortgages.’

‘If you’re on a fixed contract, it’s important to seek insurance advice and ensure your income is protected in the event of injury or illness, as you might not have the same benefits as people on permanent employment contracts.’

Self-employed mortgages: top tips

If you’re self-employed and are thinking of applying for a mortgage[1], you’ll have plenty to think about – but these five tips can help you prepare.

  1. You’ll be assessed differently depending on whether you’re a sole trader, part of a partnership or are a director of a limited company. Our full guide on self-employed mortgages[2] explains all.
  2. If you have an inconsistent income, you might need to save a bigger deposit[3] to get a good mortgage deal.
  3. Give your finances a spring clean and boost your credit rating[4] before taking the plunge.
  4. Employ an accountant to prepare and sign-off your accounts – some lenders won’t consider an application without this.
  5. Before applying, take professional advice on finding the right mortgage from an impartial broker such as Which? Mortgage Advisers[5]


  1. ^ applying for a mortgage (
  2. ^ self-employed mortgages (
  3. ^ save a bigger deposit (
  4. ^ boost your credit rating (
  5. ^ Which?

    Mortgage Advisers (

Private pensions give £10,000-a-year boost in retirement: five ways to maximise yours

People who have saved into a private pension are better off to the tune of ?10,000 a year on average, according to a new study carried out by the Office for National Statistics. In 2016, retired households with private pensions had an average disposable income of ?27,807, compared to ?17,229 for those without a private pension. That represents a 21% increase on 2015, when the difference in disposable income between those with and without a private pension was ?8,773.

The study analysed retirement incomes of households over the past 40 years, and revealed that private pensions now make up the bulk of people’s retirement incomes. In 1977, just a quarter of people’s total retirement income was made up of private pensions. Fast forward to 2016, and it now makes up 43%.

And despite the state pension rising rapidly over the past six years thanks to the triple-lock, it now makes up 38% of people’s retirement income, compared to 53% some 40 years ago. So, what can you do to boost your private pension income in retirement? Here are five ways to maximise your pension and make the most of your retirement income.


Increase your pension contributions

It may seem fairly obvious, but increasing your contributions can have a big impact on the overall level of savings you have when you retire. A 30 year old aiming to retire at age 65 could increase their annual pension income by more than ?1,000 a year by increasing their pension contributions from ?20 to ?50 a month, according to Hargreaves Lansdown’s pension calculator[1]. Upping contributions to ?100 per month would increase the same person’s annual retirement income by almost ?3,000 a year.


Ask your employer about a pension-matching scheme

People aged 22 and over and earning more than ?10,000 a year are now automatically enrolled[2] into their employer’s workplace pension scheme. They currently have to contribute 1% of their salary per year, and their employer must contribute 0.8%. However, in June, Which? reported[3] on the pension schemes that will match contributions if you choose to increase yours.

Large employers including Vodafone and BAE systems offer pension matching schemes, which see companies increasing their contributions to your pension as you do. Research from Royal London suggests that around 3.2 million people are failing to take up this offer – missing out on additional contributions of ?2bn, and losing out on an extra ?650 of income every year.

3. Get to grips with the free pension top-up from the government

Not only do people benefit from free money from their employer when they pay into a pension, they also get a free top-up from the government in the form of pension tax relief.

The tax relief you get depends on how much you earn.

  • Basic-rate taxpayers get 20% tax relief
  • Higher-rate taxpayers get 40% tax relief
  • Additional-rate taxpayers get 45% tax relief

The basic relief is added to your pension contribution, so a ?100 contribution to your pension only actually costs ?80. Depending on the type of scheme you have, some higher earners will have to claim tax relief back on a self-assessment tax return, further reducing your tax bill for the year. You can find out more in our guide to pension tax relief[4]


Unused pension allowances from previous years can still count

Each year, most people can pay as much as ?40,000 into their pension, or 100% of their salary, whichever is lower. This is called the annual allowance[5]. However, if you have unused allowances from the previous three years, you can use these up, meaning that in one year you could pay in as much as ?160,000, on which you can earn tax relief.

This process is called ‘carry forward’. There are caveats – you still cannot pay in more than your annual income, but this can be useful for people who have come into a large chunk of money – perhaps through a time-dependent bonus or the sale of a company. Find out more in our guide to the pensions annual allowance[6].


Consider consolidation to keep more pension profits

Over the course of your career, you could build up a number of pensions with a variety of companies. Consolidating these into one private pension – often into a product called a self-invested personal pension[7] (Sipp) – can be useful. You may be able to reduce charges, and will be able to select your own investments to better suit your retirement plans.

There are risks with this – you need to check that you won’t face exit penalties on the other schemes you’ve saved into, or lose valuable benefits, such as guaranteed annuity rates, which pay a higher income than today’s standard annuities. Find out more with our guide to pension consolidation[8].

How much do I need for a comfortable retirement?

Retirees typically need an income of ?26,000 a year to have a comfortable retirement, as we revealed in an investigation earlier this year[9]. This is enough to cover the essentials, as well as affording holidays and other luxuries in retirement.

We found that a couple in their 20s must save ?131 a month to generate a ?26,000 a year income, while those in their 40s must put away ?198 per month.

Find out more in our guide to how much you need to save for retirement[10].


  1. ^ Hargreaves Lansdown’s pension calculator (
  2. ^ automatically enrolled (
  3. ^ in June, Which? reported (
  4. ^ pension tax relief (
  5. ^ annual allowance (
  6. ^ the pensions annual allowance (
  7. ^ self-invested personal pension (
  8. ^ pension consolidation (
  9. ^ earlier this year (
  10. ^ guide to how much you need to save for retirement (