Nearly 500 savers complete pension safeguarding interviews

A total of 488 people have completed a ‘pensions safeguarding guidance’ interview since new anti-scam rules were introduced at the end of November 2021, according to a freedom of information (FOI) request from LCP.

Under the requirements, pension schemes are must check pension transfers for any ‘red’ or ‘amber’ flags indicating the potential for scams, with members required to provide evidence that they have completed a ‘safeguarding’ interview before the transfer may proceed where amber flags are present.

The FOI revealed that of 792 contacts referred to the Money and Pensions Service for pensions safeguarding appointments to date, around 61 per cent, or 488 contacts, have completed interviews, with a further 178 in the pipeline.

However, there were also 35 no shows, as well as 80 cancelled appointments, 9 incomplete calls and 2 contacts who were not referred by their provider.

Commenting on the figures, LCP senior consultant and lead on pension scams, Daniel Jacobson, noted that whilst it is early days for the new regime, it is clear that hundreds of people have already been required to take part in an anti-scam interview before their pension transfer could go ahead.

“At this stage we do not know whether there was an actual risk of a scam in many – or indeed any – of these cases, or whether providers are simply routinely referring a large proportion of potential transfers for guidance, rather than carrying out the expected due diligence under the new transfer regulations,” he continued.

“We also do not yet have data on whether the member simply ‘ticked the box’ by taking part in an interview but then carried on with the planned transfer regardless.

“It is very important that DWP and the Money and Pensions Service undertake research into what sorts of cases are being referred, what happens during these conversations and how consumer behaviour is being altered as a result. Only then can we say for sure whether these new measures are genuinely protecting consumers”.

Industry experts have been split on the potential impact of the new anti-scam regulations, with recent research suggesting that around 47 per cent of pension professionals are still waiting to see what the reality will be for both members and schemes.

However, XPS has suggested that the new flags introduced by the updated transfer regulations have driven a spike in transfer cases showing warning signs of pension scams, after its latest scam index update showed that 65 per cent of potential pension transfers raised at least one scam warning flag in February, the highest proportion in the past 12 months.

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