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Don’t call me!

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In the latest attempt to stop pension scheme members being deprived of their pensions by fraudsters, Parliament has at long last approved regulations which will make it illegal to cold-call members of the public about their pensions.

The ban is expected to become effective at the start of next year.  The fact that cold-calling is illegal will not of course deter fraudsters from continue to make cold calls.  Criminals who want to swindle you out of your pension are not going to worry about whether of not making a call to you is legal. We can also expect more calls to come from outside the UK which will make enforcing the ban all but impossible.  The success or otherwise of the cold-calling ban will depend on public education. For, once members of the public are aware that such calls are illegal, they are far less likely to be defrauded. The Pensions Regulator has been saying for some time that if someone cold calls you in relation to your pension you should hang up. The message has to date not got across.

Early today it was announced that the police are questioning a number of people, after reports that around 370 people have lost around £18m in pension benefits to alleged fraudsters operating eight suspected fraudulent schemes. This is the latest in a long line of similar stories, and prosecutions always come far too late for many who will have now lost their pension benefits and may have seen their hope of retiring dashed.

Making cold-calling illegal is without doubt an important and sensible step in the battle against pension scams. To make it effective I would encourage all trustees and employers to highlight this important change in law to pension scheme members. Sadly fraudsters all too often sound plausible, but if you are aware the call you are receiving is itself illegal you are far less likely to be taken in. You might also stop and think before investing so readily in risky overseas investments whose promised eye watering returns are more likely to bring tears to your eyes!

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