Ambulance chasers caught selling data to pension scammers

Ambulance chasers caught selling data to pension scammers

Claim management companies are cross-selling their books to pension scammers, according to Michelle Cracknell, chief executive of The Pensions Advisory Service (TPAS).

Speaking at FTAdviser’s Unpackaging Pensions event last week, Mr Cracknell said the guidance body received several calls from people that had previously been in contact with someone from a payment protection insurance (PPI) firm and are now being cold called by pension scammers.

She said: “We have a number of those examples where this cross-selling situation is happening.”

Steve Carlson, a chartered financial planner at Cardiff-based Carlson Wealth Management, agrees that this is currently happening.

He said: “Data is often collected from consumers who tick boxes next to statements stating that they want information on a whole range of products/services, so data providers will almost certainly be trying to sell contact books of people who they say have asked for information.”

Mr Carlson, however, argued he “wouldn’t touch that data with a barge pole” as most of the consumers “don’t know what boxes they have ticked or what they have agreed to”.

Nick Baxter, chairman of the Professional Financial Claims Association (PFCA), told FTAdviser that he is not aware of this situation.

He said, however, that the way individuals give consent for third party marketing is under review due to the General Data Protection Regulation, which will come into force in May 2018.

PPI claim companies are also being blamed for months of increases in the number of complaints about self-invested personal pensions to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Ms Cracknell also pointed out that there are scams which “are completely legal; they are just nasty, horrid and expensive”.

She said: “If you move your pension pot into another legal pension pot, in which the investments are then made in something really inappropriate, there is nobody to protect you in that scenario.”

Ms Cracknell argued that pension scams will not stop, even with the ban on cold calling.

The introduction of a ban on cold-callers who try to scam people out of their pension savings, which will include emails and texts, was announced on 21 August.

This proposal was previously dropped in April due to the general election.

At the time of the announcement, the government said the legislation to deliver the ban would be brought forward when parliamentary time allows.

Ms Cracknell said: “I totally support the ban on cold calling, but what is most important is to build it with a very big awareness campaign.

“Because the pickings are far too rich for these scammers to stop. People will not be safe with just the cold calling ban.”

Mr Carlson agrees with Ms Cracknell’s view.

He said: “The cold calling ban on its own will only have an impact on legitimate businesses – it won’t stop scammers as they already face much worse penalties for committing fraud.