Cold Calling

Cold calls about pensions are now illegal

Companies will no longer be able to make unsolicited calls to people about their pensions. Those that break the rules could face enforcement action from the Information Commissioner’s Office, including fines of up to £500,000.

The ban covers all cold-calling relating to pensions, including from legitimate firms, but it’s intended to target fraudsters. The Government says cold-calling is one of the most common methods used by pension scammers, and research from the Money Advice Service suggests there could be as many as 250 million scam calls a year.

Victims of pension scams can be left with no money for their retirement. According to regulator the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), victims of pension scams lost an average of £91,000 each last year.

Unsolicited calls are the most common method for companies who operate pension scams to contact people and new legislation introduced by the government from 9 January aims to tackle this.

ICO Investigations Manager, Andy Curry, said:

”These calls cause untold misery to thousands of people and we are pleased that the law now offers greater protection to stop them being scammed out of their hard-earned pensions by unscrupulous operators.

“The ICO has powers to go after companies who make these nuisance calls and their directors and can impose fines of up to £500,000. We would encourage people to report calls like this to us to help us take action.”

The ban prohibits cold calling in relation to pensions, except where:

  • the caller is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority, or is the trustee or manager of an occupational or personal pension scheme, and;
  • the recipient of the call consents to calls from the caller, or has an existing client relationship with the caller such as might give rise to an expectation of receiving cold calls from that caller.

The Government has repeatedly delayed bringing in the ban. First announced by Chancellor Philip Hammond at the November 2016 Autumn Statement, it was originally expected before the end of 2017, delayed to the summer of 2018 and then pushed back again to the autumn.

The delays will have resulted in millions of pensioners’ retirement savings disappearing into the hands of cold-calling fraudsters.

There are estimated to be as many as eight scam calls every second – the equivalent of 250 million calls per year – according to research by the Money Advice Service.

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