Weekly Column 16.01.19

Many of you have contacted me with your concerns about cold-calling and in particular about pensions scams. Pensions are most people’s largest financial asset making them an attractive target for fraudsters. Losing part or all of a pension pot can have significant and devastating impacts on people’s lives; scams can leave people facing retirement with a greatly reduced income, and unable to rebuild their savings.

The majority of pensions’ fraud has a single source, the scourge of cold-calling.

That’s why I welcome the announcement last week that the Government has taken the crucial step of banning cold-calling in relation to pensions with companies that make unwanted, unsolicited phone calls to people about their pensions facing new enforcement action.

From last week, with some very narrowly defined exemptions, it is illegal to cold-call anyone to discuss their pension. The ban will be enforced by the ICO who are able to fine anyone contravening their rules up to £500,000.

According to the FCA, pension scammers stole on average £91,000 per victim last year, highlighting that cold callers rob savers of their hard-earned retirement and devastate lives.

Pension scams are despicable crimes, fleecing people of the retirement they’ve earned by doing the right thing, working hard and saving for the future.

It is important that local residents in Staffordshire Moorlands - particularly those who are elderly and vulnerable - know that if an unfamiliar person calls them to discuss their pension, they should immediately hang up and inform the ICO either by phone on 0303 123 1113 or with the ICO’s online reporting tool which can be accessed at: https://ico.org.uk/make-a-complaint/nuisance-calls-and-messages/

It is clear that this ban will make a difference to the lives of many people and I am pleased that the Government has taken this important step.