New measures to protect private pension savers from the threat of unscrupulous pension scammers have been unveiled.
The government consulted on a package of measures aimed at tackling pension scams in December 2016, and the intended next steps have now been confirmed as follows:
– A cold calling ban in relation to pensions, which will include emails and text messages
– A tightening of HMRC rules to stop scammers opening fraudulent pension schemes
– Tougher actions to help prevent the transfer of money from occupational pension schemes into fraudulent ones
The announcement came as new figures revealed that pension scammers managed to con savers out of almost £5million during the first five months of 2017.
It is also estimated that £43million has been unlawfully obtained by scammers since April 2014, with targeted individuals having lost an average of nearly £15,000.
The extent of the problem is also highlighted by the fact that approximately eight cold calls are made every second in Britain targeting private pensions – the equivalent of 250million calls a year.
Victims are typically lured by the promise of low-risk, high-return opportunities ignoring the old adage that ‘if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is’.
Guy Opperman, minister for pensions and financial inclusion, said the figures “highlight the extent to which people’s savings are being targeted and stolen through elaborate hoaxes – leaving them with little opportunity to build up their savings again.
“If people have saved for a private pension, we want to protect them. This is the biggest lifesaving that individuals normally make over many years of hard work.
“By tackling these scammers, people should know that cold calling, apart from exceptional circumstances, is banned.”
Scottish Widows welcomes clamp down on pensions fraud
Scottish Widows’ head of policy, Pete Glancy welcomed the announcement and explained the role the industry should have in supporting it:
“These measures will help protect savers, in particular those who are potentially vulnerable. It won’t stop the fraudsters from trying though – so we need to help by telling our customers to be very wary of any contact out that appears out of the blue.”