The U.K. government has confirmed plans to ban cold calls, emails and text messages related to pensions.
The government had previously said it wanted to ban such activities, which have been blamed for the huge amounts lost to pension scammers – official figures confirmed that £5 million was stolen in the first five months of this year, taking the total over the last three years to a massive £43 million, taking an average of £15,000 from each victim.
However, it dropped the commitment from a previous bill in order to get it through Parliament before the snap election.
The cold calling ban will be enforced by the Information Commissioners Office.
Guy Opperman, minister for pensions and financial inclusion, said that victims were losing their lifes savings to elaborate hoaxes, leaving them little opportunity to rebuild them.
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.
The ban is one of three measures announced by the Department for Work and Pensions, alongside tightening of HM Revenue & Customs rules to prevent scammers from opening fraudulent pension schemes and tougher actions to prevent the transfer of money from occupational pension schemes to fraudulent ones.
Clear and unequivocal
Former pensions minister Ros Altmann said that the case for banning unsolicited approaches appeared to be clear and unequivocal.
Currently, any scam company can buy a list of ‘prospects’ and contact them out of the blue to offer them a free pension review that leads to them losing their entire pension in a fraudulent scheme. Cold calling for mortgages was banned years ago and the public needs the same protection for other financial matters.
People can only be approached about a mortgage if they have expressly requested contact from the company by name. Just ticking a generic box about financial promotions would not make the approach legal. Doing the same for pensions would be a significant step forward in protecting the public