In his Autumn Statement, Hammond said that the government plans to publish a consultation on options to tackle pension scams including a ban on cold calling in relation to pensions, giving organisations greater powers to block suspicious transfers and making it harder for scammers to abuse small self-administered schemes.
Tom McPhail, head of retirement policy at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “Today’s announcement of a ban on cold calling is a welcome fight-back against the criminals who try to steal investors’ retirement savings. Banning cold calling won’t eradicate the problem but it will help in two important ways: It will create a punishable offence at the outset before they have even got their hands on investors’ money. Hopefully this will deter some would-be fraudsters; it will also send a clear unambiguous message: if someone cold calls you about your pension then they are up to no good.
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“Additional measures being explored, such as making it harder to set up pensions in the first place and giving legitimate pension companies more latitude to block transfers when they suspect fraud are also important developments which the industry has been calling for.
“This is not a complete solution; fraudsters will not stop targeting investors’ pensions. Policymakers and regulators will need to continue to listen to and work with the pension and investment industry to address future challenges.”
Hugh Nolan, president of the Society of Pension Professionals, and director at Spence and Partners, added: “We very much welcome the continued efforts to protect people from unwelcome cold calls, but more importantly from pension scams, which are financially devastating for the victims.
“We are delighted by the recognition that pension providers are an invaluable defence for consumers and the extra tools that will be given to the industry to help us protect our members and policyholders. Unfortunately, we are not sure that a ban on cold calling would be effective as there is an obvious risk that the scammers will simply ignore it, since by definition they aren’t exactly law abiding citizens.”