As of 9 January, companies that make unsolicited phone calls to people about their pensions will be liable to enforcement action, including fines of up to £500,000.
The ban has been introduced in a bid to prevent people falling victim to cold call scams that can lead to them losing their life savings. As many as eight scam calls take place every second – or a whopping 250 million calls a year – according to research from the Money Advice Service (MAS).
Reports made to Action Fraud show how highly sophisticated fraudsters have tricked people into transferring their pensions into fraudulent schemes. Victims of pension scams can lose their life savings, and be left facing retirement with limited income. According to the Financial Conduct Authority, pension fraudsters stole on average £91,000 per victim in 2018.
The ban prohibits cold-calling in relation to pensions, except where:
- the caller is authorised by the FCA, or is the trustee or manager of an occupational or personal pension scheme, and
- the recipient of the call consents to calls, or has an existing relationship with the caller.
Cold calling is currently by far the most common method used to initiate pension fraud. Other scam tactics include:
- Unexpected contact about your pension via post or email.
- Promises of guaranteed high returns and downplaying the risks.
- Offering unusual or overseas investments that aren’t regulated by the FCA e.g. overseas hotels, forestry, green energy schemes.
- Putting people under pressure to make a quick decision, for example with time-limited offers, and sending a courier round with paperwork to sign.
- Claiming to be able to unlock money from an individual’s pension (which is normally only possible from age 55).
The FCA and TPR are urging the public to be ScamSmart with their pension and always check who they’re dealing with.
The HM Treasury offers the following advice:
If you receive a cold call about your pension, get any information you can, such as the company name or phone number, and report it to the Information Commissioner’s Office via their website or on 0303 123 1113.
If you have been affected by this, or any other scam, report it to Action Fraud by calling
0300 123 2040, or by using the online reporting tool at www.actionfraud.police.uk
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