A proposed ban on "cowboy" cold-callers who telephone households to target savers' pension pots will be extended to include emails and texts.
The Department for Work and Pensions has today confirmed it will push ahead with its clampdown on pension cold-callers who prey on vulnerable people, after first announcing details in last year's Autumn Statement. Those who flout the ban will face fines of up to £500,000.
Under the proposals all calls, texts and emails, where a business has no existing relationship with an individual, will be forbidden. This includes scammers targeting people who inadvertently 'opt in' to receiving third party communications. There is no date set for when the proposals will be implemented.
HM Revenue & Customs rules will also be tightened to stop scammers opening dodgy pension schemes, and the limiting of transfers of pension pots from one occupational scheme to another should help prevent them being moved to fraudulent schemes. Only active companies, which produce regular, up-to-date accounts, will also be able to register pension schemes.
See our Stop Cold Callers guide for more information.
'Those targeted lose nearly £15k on average'
The Government has also released new figures showing almost £5 million was taken by pension scammers in the first five months of 2017.
Since April 2014 it's estimated a total of £43 million has been swindled by scammers, who falsely promise low-risk, high-return investment opportunities. Those targeted have lost almost £15,000 on average.
Pension scams come in different forms, but they mostly tend to offer "unique investment opportunities". This could involve asking you to invest your pension pot in a new hotel in an exotic location or in various "ethical" projects that promise massive returns.
Guy Opperman, Minister for Pensions and Financial Inclusion, said: "Today's figures highlight the extent to which people's savings are being targeted and stolen through elaborate hoaxes – leaving them with little opportunity to build up their savings again. That is why we are introducing tough new measures for those who scam.
"If people have saved for a private pension, we want to protect them. This is the biggest life saving that individuals normally make over many years of hard work. By tackling these scammers, people should know that cold calling, apart from exceptional circumstances, is banned."
If you have any concerns about your pension, call the Pensions Advisory Service on 0300 123 1047 or visit The Pensions Regulator website. If you're worried you've been scammed, call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.