Pensions 

Govt told to act now on confirmed cold calling ban

Govt told to act now on confirmed cold calling ban

The government is finally introducing a ban on pensions cold calling, a proposal which was dropped in April due to the general election.

However, industry voices have urged the government to take this matter to parliament as soon as possible, so it can come into effect.

Steve Webb, director of policy at Royal London, argued that “it is vital that this ban is implemented as a matter of urgency”.

He said: “We cannot afford to wait months or even years before it is illegal to phone someone up out of the blue in this way, as a cold call is often the first step to a scam.”

Tom Selby, senior analyst at AJ Bell, agreed: “It is concerning there remains no set date for implementation, and we urge policymakers to fast-track these vital protections through parliament as a matter of urgency.”

According to a spokesperson at Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), there is no set date for the matter to be discussed in parliament.

The cold calling ban, announced yesterday (20 August) will also include emails and text messages. It will be enforced by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

The government has also released new figures that show that almost £5m was obtained by pension scammers in the first five months of 2017.

It is estimated that £43m has also been unlawfully obtained by scammers since April 2014, with those targeted having lost an average of nearly £15,000.

Guy Opperman, minister for pensions and financial inclusion said: “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.”

There will be two exemptions from the proposed ban, to ensure that those with legitimate businesses are not affected, the government said.

This will apply to calls where consumers have expressly requested information from a firm, and those where an existing client relationship exists.

Despite the ban, Mr Selby believes that it will not stop cold-calling or pension scams. “Fraudsters will seek to exploit any loopholes in the rules, and many of the outfits involved will simply move their call centres abroad to avoid the ban,” he said.

“But the message this intervention sends to savers is hugely valuable and should go some way to reducing the number of people who get conned out of their life savings,” he concluded.

Nathan Long, senior pension analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, agrees that “clamping down on calls, texts and emails will not stop the scammers”.

“But it sends a loud and clear message to be on your guard if you are contacted out of the blue. The golden rule with pension planning is if something appears too good to be true, it almost certainly is,” he said.

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