Pensions industry urged to share more data to help prevent scams

Industry experts have emphasised the need for regulators and pensions businesses to do more to identify and prevent pension scams, with particular concerns highlighted around the current lack of intelligence sharing and unregulated investments.

Speaking at a webinar hosted by The People's Pension (TPP), Who is protecting my pension?, TPP director of policy, Phillip Brown, warned that there is currently an environment that “allows for the facilitation of scams”.

Concerns around fragmentation were also noted by Work and Pensions Committee chair, Stephen Timms, who has previously warned that fragmentation of responsibility is a "significant" part of the problem.

The Police Foundation (TPF) director, Rick Muir, emphasised that having a clear picture of what is happening in relation to pension scams is important to consider what action is needed to going forward.

Muir explained: “In most areas of crime and policing, if you’re going to tackle crime you need intelligence, you need a really good intelligence picture of what’s going on, and at the moment we thinking that’s lacking because the system is very fragmented.

“Data isn’t being sufficiently shared around the industry, so we’re calling for a central intelligence database, which would enable people to identify much more effectively suspicious actors, and also to better coordinate the response system."

Muir also emphasised that work in other parts of the financial sector, such as money laundering, has shown that intelligence can be shared.

"At the end of the day," he added, "I think preventing serious crimes from happening should override any concerns about data protection and so on, and I think that there are examples from other industries where that has been done."

Pension Scams Industry Group chair, Margaret Snowdon, also agreed that it is “ridiculous” for every company to do its own intelligence gathering, highlighting the development of a central intelligence platform as “absolutely essential”.

However, Snowdown also noted that an informal intelligence sharing forum is already in place through PSIG, with around 50 companies sharing intelligence currently.

“It’s a dangerous thing to do because you’re collecting information on some bad people so there’s always a bit of a risk, but we think that there must be a central intelligence unit.”

This comes amid the news that the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) has shared a "font of all knowledge" resource page on pension scams with stakeholders.

The webinar also follows a joint research report from TPP and TPF, Protecting People’s Pensions: Understanding and Preventing Scams, which urged the government to give pension firms greater powers to prevent scams.

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