Scams  

Change in law needed to stop scams, says Timms

Change in law needed to stop scams, says Timms
 Credit: Jaswant Bhopal/Dreamstime.com

Work and pensions committee chairman Stephen Timms has said changes in the law will be needed in order to tackle the growing issue of pension scams.

Speaking at the inaugural meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Pension Scams yesterday afternoon (September 7), Mr Timms said letting things carry on how they are with regards to pension scams “is not an option”.

He added: “Changes to the law will be required to tackle this issue and I hope we can identify and implement these changes.”

The committee is in the process of carrying out an enquiry into pension scams, as part of broader work looking into the impact of the pension freedoms.

Mr Timms said the first public hearing on this topic will be next week (September 16), including a panel of witnesses to ask questions with the aim to “piece together a picture of the scale of the problem” and to have an idea of what Parliament can do to prevent scams.

The inquiry is expected to run until November.

Other MPs also joined the online meeting, hosted by the Transparency Task Force and its founder Andy Agathangelou.

Bob Blackman, who was chosen to be chairman of the APPG, said he was particularly concerned about victims of scams being approached by offshore advisers, saying this should be an area of focus.

He added his constituency of Harrow East had an ageing demographic and was therefore increasingly being targeted by scammers.

He said: “This week I have received calls about pension reviews from different parts of the world. I have been getting calls from Kosovo, Africa and parts of India.”

Mr Agathangelou suggested pension providers could team together to create a fund, which would operate under proper governance, to be used to pay legal professionals on behalf of scam victims.

He said: “We could look at the legal process to close these scammers down. For one individual scam victim to get justice is a nightmare.”

In the APPG’s previous meeting in July, Mr  Agathangelou claimed the pensions industry was not doing enough to support victims of scams and was failing to use their experiences in its scam prevention work.

He said scam victims were a “treasure chest of knowledge” and able to draw on valuable, hard-earned experience.

A report published yesterday by think tank the Police Foundation called for new powers to be introduced to allow providers to stop any transfers where scammers are suspected to be involved.

This comes as the report pointed out that the majority of savers choose to go ahead with a transfer even after being made aware of scam risks.

amy.austin@ft.com

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