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Pension cold calling to be banned in June

Written by: Paloma Kubiak
The scourge of pension scams should be reduced this summer as the government has issued a date for pension cold calling to be banned.

In an amendment to the Financial guidance and claims bill the government has implemented an end of June deadline for pensions cold calling to be banned.

If the Secretary of State hasn’t made regulations on this by then, they will need to explain why the regulations haven’t been made, as well as set a timetable for implementation.

In an explanatory statement published today, it stated: “This new clause inserts a power for the Secretary of State to make regulations (subject to the affirmative procedure) banning unsolicited direct marketing relating to pensions. If the power is not exercised by June, the Secretary of State must explain to Parliament why not.”

Last August the government announced it would ban private pensions cold calling, including emails and text messages to protect savers from unscrupulous scammers.

But there was widespread criticism as no firm date had been given for the ban to go ahead. In December 2017, the Work and Pensions Select Committee called for a June 2018 implementation date.

Kate Smith, head of pensions at Aegon, said with the ban not coming into force until the summer, people still need to be vigilant.

“Even once it’s in place, people will still need to protect themselves from fraudsters based overseas, not affected by the ban, or others who simply flout it,” she said.

“Introducing a ban offers a degree of protection, but on its own won’t be enough. The government needs to tell people about it by running public awareness campaigns. Without this, people may not know of the ban and the fact that unsolicited approaches are illegal from June.

“The good news is that HMRC is already trawling its pension scheme database getting ready to wield its new powers to deregister illegitimate schemes from April.

“For now the battle has been won, but it would be premature to celebrate until pension scamming is stamped out completely. The best way to do this is to give pension schemes powers to block suspicious transfers, so hard earned pensions aren’t moved to pension scam vehicles in the first place. This would stop a lot of heartache. Government, regulators as well as the industry have a role to play here in the fight to keep pension savers’ money safe.”

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