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IFA who got cold-calling banned on next steps

IFA who got cold-calling banned on next steps

The adviser who initiated the campaign to ban cold-calling two years ago, has called on providers to spread the message of the ban to consumers.

Darren Cooke, Chartered financial planner at Red Circle Financial Planning, said he was "reasonably pleased" with how the government's ban has turned out, although he wished it had been extended to all forms of investments, not just pensions.

The move by HM Treasury, effective from today (January 9), means unsolicited calls about pensions become illegal and companies that break these rules can face fines of up to £500,000.

The ban prohibits cold-calling in relation to pensions, except where the caller is authorised by the FCA, or is the trustee or manager of an occupational or personal pension scheme, and the recipient of the call consents to calls, or has an existing relationship with the caller.

Mr Cooke said: "The biggest thing is the change we achieved in government perspective.

"The aim was always to be able to say to the public that any cold call about pensions was illegal, the person calling you is already breaking the law, just hang up.

"I think we have achieved that but the government, and the life companies and media now need to step up and make sure that message is carried out to the public."

Mr Cooke launched a campaign for cold-calling by phone or email for investment or pensions to be made illegal in late 2016, after watching a BBC Panorama programme on pension scams.

His initiative quickly gained the support from high profile industry figures such as former pensions ministers Baroness Ros Altmann and Sir Steve Webb.

He said: "Prior to the campaign there was little recognition from Whitehall of the problem of pensions scams and cold calling in particular. 

"Both Steve Webb and Ros Altman have stated that while they were in government there was no appetite to do anything about this and it was all but dismissed as not worth bothering about.

"Clearly that has changed."

But Mr Cooke cautioned the ban in its current form would not stop scammers from making further cold-calls. 

"They are already criminals, they already break the law why would they not break this one too, or just move the call centre offshore and outside UK jurisdiction," he said.

"The legislation provides for a public awareness campaign so I hope that is carried through," he added.

Moving on, Mr Cooke intends to continue with his work on preventing scams, albeit not in the public eye as much.

He said: "I can't really see this as being the end. There are still crooks looking to part people from their pensions and investments so I will carry on trying to prevent that but maybe in not such a big way leading, or at least being the face of, such a public campaign as this one."

He said he had become associated with the issue "almost by accident".