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Crackdown on pensions cold calling ‘must go further’

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The government’s plans to ban pensions cold calling need to be extended to cover texts and emails, according to one industry expert.

Chancellor Philip Hammond is expected to announce a crackdown on fraudsters who trick people out of their pension savings during his Autumn Statement on Wednesday.

But the ban, which could see firms fined up to £500,000, would only cover scam calls not text messages and emails.

Kate Smith, head of pensions at insurer Aegon, said the proposed ban “is a major step forward” but needs to go further.

“Scams are constantly evolving; as soon as you remove one fraud method, another variant on the old scheme pops up,” she said.

“A ban on cold calling won’t be foolproof, but at least it will put more people on their guard and criminalise those who make the calls. People should remember the old adage, if something looks too good to be true it probably is.”

Cases of pension scams have rocketed since new rules allowing over 55s full access to their pension pot were introduced in April 2015.

Figures obtained by pension firm AJ Bell show around £13m of pension fraud losses were reported to the City of London Police in the first six months of the new rules.

“Banning cold calling will cut off one of the heads of this many-headed beast, but the government, regulators and industry must remain vigilant and consider what further measures might be necessary to deter fraudsters,” said Tom Selby senior analyst at AJ Bell.

The Treasury is also expected to consult on plans to hand providers extra powers to block suspicious transfers.

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