Pensions 

Guide to the government's pension scam ban

  • To understand what the government is doing to tackle pension scams.
  • To be able to list tell-tale signs and help clients avoid being defrauded.
  • To ascertain how to help vulnerable clients.
CPD
Approx.60min
Guide to the government's pension scam ban

Introduction

The conversation went thus: 

"Hello, is that [something vaguely approximating to my actual name]? We are calling about your recent car accident."

"Interesting," I said. "I thought the police were still looking into it."

"We are sorry you were in an accident but we can help with your claim."

"I am surprised you got hold of me, I thought I was not going to be contacted until after the trial."

"The trial for what? Sorry?"

"The accident. When my lorry full of migrants from Calais overturned on the M1 and we got arrested. It was all over the news."

<click>

Another day, another cold-caller. While some are harmless and easy enough to spot, for too many people in the UK these have become a terrible burden. Phone calls about pensions payment protection (PPI), strange new investments, charity requests and insurance claims have become a blight on people's lives.

Earlier this year, Aviva revealed there were approximately 2.2bn nuisance calls made in 2017, based on research from Ofcom data. Add to this the number of emails, texts and direct mailings, and the problem escalates. 

For those of us with time enough to spare in winding up some hapless chap from Newcastle, it is indeed a nuisance, but for some, it becomes so much of a burden they turn suicidal. 

The case of poor Olive Cooke, a 92-year-old poppy seller who, in 2016, took her own life because she could not cope with the 3,000-plus direct mailings from charities begging her for help was a wake-up call to many in the industry.

The most vulnerable people in our society, like Ms Cooke, are the most likely to be targeted by scammers looking to prey on the elderly and defraud them of their hard-earned pensions. 

The problem seemed to escalate in 2015, shortly after pension freedoms came into force. As Britons were given the freedom and flexibility to access their pension cash at 55 in the manner of their own choosing (theoretically, at any rate), so the pension scammers crawled out of the woodwork to get their slimy paws on that cash. 

And that is where the government's recent work on pension scam prevention has come in, with the latest response to the Work and Pensions Select Committee report in February outlining how it will move to implement its proposed ban on cold-calling, which is expected in June this year.

This guide, which qualifies for an indicative 60 minutes' worth of CPD, aims to explore whether the problem is as bad as the media makes out, what sort of measures advisers and clients can put in place to protect themselves before the legislation kicks in, whether the proposed measures go far enough, and how advisers can help to identify the most vulnerable clients and ensure they are kept safe from scammers.

Contributors to this guide: Vince Smith-Hughes, retirement expert for Prudential; Jessica List, pension technical manager for Curtis Banks; Ben Fisher, consulting actuary for Xafinity Punter Southall; John Lawson, head of financial research for Aviva; Jane Goodland, responsible business director for Old Mutual Wealth; Fiona Tait, technical director for Intelligent Pensions; Nigel Chambers, co-founder of CTC Software; Nigel Bennett, sales and marketing director for InvestAcc Pension Administration Limited; Neil MacGillivray, head of technical support for James Hay; Elaine Turtle, director of DP Pensions; James Walsh, policy lead for engagement, the European Union and regulation at the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association; Ben Fairhead, partner at Pinsent Masons; Origo; Mark Smith, chief operating officer for Mattioli Woods; Peter Bradshaw, national accounts director for Selectapension; Martin Tilley, director of technical services for Dentons Pension Management; The Association of Member-Directed Pension Schemes; Work and Pensions Committee; the Department for Work and Pensions.

Simoney Kyriakou is content plus editor for FTAdviser

In this guide

CPD
Approx.60min
  1. According to Ms List, what is the problem when it comes to seeing the whole picture?

  2. What scam is a "recent favourite" for Mr Tilley?

  3. What is the biggest area of improvement as far as Ben Fisher is concerned?

  4. Which of the following fits Mr Bradshaw's description of what is "probably dodgy".

  5. What does Ms Turtle say is at the root of everything?

  6. What does Mr Bradshaw want to see fraudsters get?

Nearly There…

You have successfully answered all the questions correctly, well done!

You should now know…

  • To understand what the government is doing to tackle pension scams.
  • To be able to list tell-tale signs and help clients avoid being defrauded.
  • To ascertain how to help vulnerable clients.

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