19 November 2016
- Treasury set to ban pension cold calling in Autumn Statement
- Well done Philip Hammond – this is a great start to help clamp down on scams
- Clear signal for people that such calls are illegal so they should Just Hang Up or delete email
- Further measures to stop scam schemes setting up and clamp down on transfers also welcome
- We must do all we can to protect people’s precious pension savings and this is a positive step
The Chancellor is going to announce that pension cold calling is to be made illegal. He may also be announcing additional measures to help protect customers, by making it harder to set up scam schemes and to transfer money into them.
Well done Philip Hammond – we have to do whatever we can to protect the public against fraudsters. Vulnerable elderly people are being called and offered free ‘pension reviews’ which lead to them losing their entire life savings. We need to be able to give the clear message that if someone contacts you out of the blue about your pension, they are breaking the law, they are criminals. By making cold calling illegal, it is much clearer for the public that they just should not engage with such people.
So far, the government has tried a number of initiatives, such as Project Bloom, Project Scorpion, Action Fraud and cross-Departmental taskforces that aimed to warn the public and catch the fraudsters. Unfortunately, the Government admitted in response to Written Parliamentary Questions that nobody has been convicted and only a handful have even been charged. The current indirect approaches are very well-meaning, but just don’t work for the people who need protecting.
A ban on cold calling is obviously not going to stop all scams, but it gives people a fighting chance of recognising the dangers before they engage and also ensures that we can give the public the clear message that such approaches are dangerous and should be avoided at all costs.
Ideally we would want to find ways to stop pension firms transferring people’s pensions into scam schemes, however that is far more difficult. A ban on cold-calling is something that can be done more quickly.
I worked hard as Minister to try to achieve this and am delighted to see it looks as if this will finally happen. Officials and other Ministers tried to caution against banning cold calls because they did not want to stop bona fide businesses being able to contact customers. That argument is false. No bona fide company should contact people out of the blue offering free pension reviews or investment schemes for their pension savings. If a firm wants to generate new customers, they will have to find better ways than just buying up lists of contact details and cold calling people.
A number of advisers have set up a petition which has helped to focus attention on this issue and the media has been great in supporting the ban on cold-calling.
A victory for common sense and for customer protection. Well done to all.