In his Autumn Statement coming up next week, the British Chancellor Philip Hammond is expected to announce an end to cold calls targeted at pensioners. The announcement comes as a response to the growing number of pension scams in the UK. This itself, was due to changes made by the previous chancellor George Osborne, which caused an increase in pension scams. Over 250 million scam calls are recorded each year, with a large number aimed at the country’s 11 million+ ageing population. In the 12-month period ending March this year, £19 million were lost to pension related scams. A petition was signed calling on the British government to make cold-calling illegal. Pensioners are often duped by being told to move their money to a new scheme with higher returns, including investments in foreign countries or in ethical projects. Hammond will announce that the only companies allowed to call pensioners will be those already hosting their schemes. There will be a fine of up to £500,000 for rule breakers.
Companies that have gotten pensioner details from those who opted in to receive third party information would also not be allowed to get in touch. Hammond plans to also empower companies to suspend or deny payments to other schemes or companies which lack full documentation. It will become harder for scammers to register fraudulent pension schemes – self-administered schemes. The government is expected to deliberate on the new proposals and to formulate a plan of action by the March budget next year. “Pension scams can ruin people’s retirement, sometimes casting a permanent blight on their quality of life, for the rest of their lives,” said Tom McPhail, head of retirement policy at Hargreaves Lansdown.