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Quilter acts on TPR’s pension scams campaign

23 February 2021

Quilter has vowed to support The Pension Regulator’s campaign to crack down on pension scams by adopting stringent standards.

Since 2017, it’s estimated that over £30 million has been lost to pension scams, although the true figure is likely to be much higher.

The campaign, launched by TPR and supported by the Pensions Scams Industry Group, encourages pension providers, trustees and administrators to protect pension savers by ensuring that pension schemes regularly warn members of the risk of scams; adopt best practice for pension transfers; and undertake due diligence to identify potentially suspicious transfer requests.

The government has provided trustees with more powers to restrict fraudulent pension transfers from taking place when certain red flags are raised. However, Quilter believes this alone will not stamp out pension scams, nor prevent the rapid increase of online investment scams.

The wealth manager is calling upon the Government to take further action by introducing a legal duty for search engines and social media platforms to prevent scam advertisements from appearing online, either through the forthcoming Online Harms Bill or the DCM’s Online Advertising Programme. It has also argued for the need for tougher penalties to act as a deterrent for scammers.

John Greer, head of retirement policy, Quilter (pictured), said: “Pension scams can have a life-changing impact on victims’ financial and emotional wellbeing, so it is vital that pension scheme trustees and administrators do all they can to ensure that members are regularly warned of the risks of pension scams, and to ensure that suspicious transfer requests are identified and investigated.

“The Pension Schemes Act, granting trustees vital new powers to restrict suspicious pension transfer requests, is an important milestone. But we firmly believe the government must tackle the risk of pension scams being facilitated through search engines and social media platforms.”

Greer said the government had “missed an opportunity to address the problem” in its recent response to the Online Harms white paper.

Greer added: “There is also simply no jeopardy for the scammers who are stealing people’s savings, which are often equivalent to the value of someone’s house. It is virtually risk-free for pension and investment scams, so the government need to get properly tough on this appalling crime. Furthermore, it would seem entirely perverse that victims of pension scams can also be subject to punitive tax charges; by virtue of tax legislation HMRC are duty bound to collect them. Effectively there is a tax on pension scam victims.”

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