BUDGET 2018: Government announces pensions cold calling ban

The government has launched legislation on banning pensions cold-calling, as part of it’s 2018 Budget.

Subject to parliamentary approval, the government's legislation will “prohibit cold-calling in relation to pensions unless the caller is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority, or is the trustee or manager of an occupational or personal pension scheme”.

Furthermore, if the recipient of the call consents to receiving cold calls relating to pensions or if the recipient “has an existing client relationship with the caller, and the relationship is such that the recipient might reasonably envisage receiving pensions cold calls”.

The newly released legislation specifies how the government intends to update the existing framework of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003, alongside the Data Protection Act 2018 and the General Data Protection Regulations, to include a provision prohibiting pensions cold calling.

This will allow the Information Commissioner’s Office to issue civil monetary penalties of up to £500,000 for breaches of the regulations.

Aegon head of pensions, Kate Smith welcomed the news: “Although we still haven’t got a date, we welcome this commitment and are hopeful the ban will become a reality sooner rather than later. The pension cold-calling ban has been long-time coming and although it won’t be the panacea, a ban will go some way to protecting people from pension scammers.”

The ban would include automated calls, as well as calls where scammers cold-call consumers on one topic and then “bolt on” a discussion about pensions.

Additionally, it will not be limited to transfers between pensions schemes, but will also cover calls where scammers encourage individuals to release fund from their pensions and transfer them into a bank account.

On raising awareness of the ban if it comes into force, the paper said: “Once the regulations have passed and in the lead up to the ban coming into force, the government will work with partners to proactively communicate the message that pensions cold-calling will become illegal.”

Smith added: “For the ban to be effective, it needs to be accompanied by a public awareness campaign. So we’re pleased to see that the government will work with partners to make sure people are aware that pension cold-calling will be illegal, once the ban is in place.”

The government plans to present its draft regulations to parliament in autumn 2018 and, subject to approval, bring them into force as soon as possible.

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