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Call for greater Parliamentary focus on scams

13 October 2020

AJ Bell has urged the Government to introduce a minister-specific responsibility for tackling scams, amid a rise in the number of fraudsters taking advantage of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Senior technical consultant Rachel Vahey told the Work and Pensions Committee that the evolving nature of scams and impact on society calls for greater Parliamentary focus.

Vahey said: “The financial uncertainty created by the Covid outbreak is like blood in the water for scammers; millions of people face the prospect of unemployment, losing their main source of income and staring down the barrel of serious financial hardship. Such turmoil will inevitably see more people targeted by scammers with their hard-earned and sizeable retirement pots likely to be a prime focus. This is wider, however, than just pension scams. This extends to investment and other financial scams.

“We need as a society to take scams more seriously; to put our money where our mouth is. Creating an overarching role in Parliament, such as a Minister for Scam Prevention whose sole focus is stopping the ever-growing swell of scams, could be an effective way to help people protect their hard-earned wealth.”

According to Vahey, policymakers should adopt three elements to stop scams. These include raising awareness around scams, tougher penalties and consequences for scammers as well as greater action from pension schemes to stop scammers where possible.

Vahey adds:  “In our response to the Work and Pensions Committee’s inquiry we set out several ways Government and regulators can take the fight to pension scammers.

“These include broadening the cold-calling ban to cover not only social media and emails, but also factory gating where lead generators meet prospective clients in person.

“As well as improved guidance from Action Fraud on what scams to report and how, Action Fraud will identify whether to investigate a scam based on a scoring system and will only investigate a scam once it has been reported by several different sources or is of a large enough size.”

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