Pension cold calling ban branded inadequate

Pension cold calling ban branded inadequate

The government’s proposals for ending pension cold calls has come under fire over its effectiveness, with a campaign group arguing it "doesn’t justify being called a ban".

David Hickson, of the Campaign for Fair Telecoms, said the ban is inadequate because it excludes certain types of of cold calls.

He said the fact regulatory bodies have launched an advertising campaign warning about the dangers of cold calls shows the regulators, in his view, have little faith in the government’s approach.

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The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and The Pensions Regulator (TPR) yesterday (14 August) launched a joint advertising campaign to raise awareness of pension scams, as it found victims had lost an average of £91,000 each last year.

The FCA and TPR identified cold calling as the most common method used by pension scammers and warned the offer of a 'free pension review' was a common tactic used by fraudsters that many pension holders were unaware of.

The government was originally supposed to introduce a ban on pension cold calling by the end of June, but it later admitted it had missed its deadline and instead announced a consultation to run until 17 August.

Mr Hickson said: "We believe that what is proposed in no way even justifies the title of being a 'ban', as it represents nothing more than a minor tweak to a regime that is seen to have failed to be effective.

"Specifically [the proposed ban] fails to do anything new in respect of attended calls to those with numbers on the Telephone Preference Service register, all automated calls, text messages and emails. The existing ban which already applies, albeit ineffectively, in respect of these is left in place."

He proposed all cold calling in relation to financial services should be banned.

He said: "Unsolicited direct marketing by telephone, text and email is an inappropriate way of marketing services that require careful consideration and access to independent advice.

"If a clear and unconditional prohibition on cold calling were in place, all such contacts could be rejected."

In April the Labour party had tried to amend the bill as it was passing through Parliament, in a bid to strengthen the rules and achieve tougher sanctions.

The party approached the topic on a four-pronged basis: banning cold calling on pensions; placing a total ban on claims management companies; banning the use of information obtained from cold calling and ensuring the strongest possible sanctions are put on those who break the ban.

Stephen Lloyd, the Liberal Democrat MP for Eastbourne and spokesman for his party on pensions issues, has meanwhile branded the delay to the cold calling ban a "disgrace".

Mr Lloyd said: "The awareness campaign from the regulators is very welcome. But what it also highlights is although many groups are trying to work to secure pensioners' financial security, the government is still unable to do its job and just implement the ban.