The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has admitted it may never be able to identify the scale of pension scams, and is considering giving up trying.
TPR leads Project Bloom, a multi-agency taskforce which is working with government, the pensions industry, law enforcement agencies and other regulators to combat pension scams.
Speaking at the Pensions Administration Standards Association (PASA) conference yesterday (13 February) in London, Mike Broomfield, TPR’s head of intelligence, said obtaining information is probably the biggest challenge the project has in terms of quantifying the problem of scams.
He said: “We've had many attempts to look at how we can size the problem and put a price on it, but I can tell you now that we can't do that. We may have to admit defeat in that objective.”
Lesley Titcomb, TPR chief executive, admitted last year that the government’s official numbers on scams - £43m lost since April 2014 – doesn’t represent the full picture.
Margaret Snowdon, chair of the PASA and of the Pension Liberation Group, estimated that pension savers have lost more than £1bn to scams.
Mr Broomfield argued that Project Bloom is now focusing on the pension scams environment, and how people report these frauds, so the regulators can “start reacting to it and being proactive as well”.
He added: “I don't think we will ever get a figure out there, because we just don't get enough data.”
He agrees with Michelle Cracknell, chief executive of The Pensions Advisory Service (Tpas), who said yesterday that a cold calling ban won’t stop pension scams, since these are evolving constantly.
However, Mr Broomfield believes that it will raise awareness about scams between savers.
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 last year.
The government said yesterday that it is now working to speed up the introduction of this ban.