Calls for FCA to intervene in cold-call crackdown

Calls for FCA to intervene in cold-call crackdown

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has been called on to be stricter on authorised firms that use leads generated by cold calling, following the launch of its ScamSmart campaign with The Pension Regulator.

David Hickson, campaigner at Fair Telecoms, said the FCA was in a position to ban authorised firms from using leads generated by cold calling.

The government is currently consulting on banning cold calling on pensions but Mr Hickson said the regulator should also do more to put an end to scams.

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Mr Hickson said: "One thing that the FCA can do that the government can’t is take on businesses that use leads generated by cold callers.

"Cold calling is often carried out by nimble companies that operate overseas, where they are outside of jurisdiction. These companies cold call people, gather leads and flog them to authorised businesses.

"The FCA could write into its code a rule which states that authorised businesses are not allowed to write business on the back of these leads."

Last week (14 August) the FCA and TPR launched a scam awareness campaign after they found scam victims had lost on average £91,000 each last year.

The FCA and TPR had identified cold calling as the main method of scamming, together with post and email scams, and warned the offer of a 'free pension review' was a common tactic used by fraudsters that many pension holders were unaware of.

Mr Hickson said: "The FCA wants people to look up cold callers in a directory and then contact them to report them for cold calling.

"Rather than spending millions on a campaign, the regulator should ban it completely, but it hasn’t said why it won’t. However, because cold calling is such a big marketing tool, there is a danger that a total ban could be seen as being anti-competition."

In a statement the FCA said: "We have made it clear to firms that we regulate how we expect them to behave in respect of accepting business and we already have the power to take action against firms who do not comply and have used these."

The government was due to outlaw pension cold calling in June but admitted in July it had failed to meet the deadline due to the "complexity" of the issue at hand. It launched a consultation instead.

However, some have pointed out cold calling will still be legal in some instances, even after the government has introduced its proposed ban.

Ros Altmann, previous pensions minister, said: "The current plan is to allow cold calling in some circumstances, such as if the caller doesn't 'intend' to scam, or if the person has a relationship with the company.

"Scammers could call someone out of the blue claiming to want to talk about their 'Aviva' pension or 'Legal and General' etc. The probability is that a good proportion of such random calls will find customers of those companies who won't realise this is just a lead generator for another firm."