'Little evidence' of increase in pension scams - Opperman

There is “little evidence” of an increase in pension transfers or scams across the industry amid the Covid-19 pandemic, according to Pensions Minister Guy Opperman.

Responding to a series of written questions from Labour MP Angela Eagle, Opperman said monitoring from the government and regulators, along with responses from the industry at large, had failed to pick up any increases but that the government would “continue to monitor and respond to any emerging evidence”.

To demonstrate the lack of change, he noted that in the period spanning March and July 2020, 116 reports of possible pension fraud were received by Action Fraud, compared to 179 for the same period in 2019.

With regard to ensuring that pension savers were prepared for the risks presented by scams, Opperman noted that there had been a total of 79,967 bookings for a Pension Wise guidance session between March 1st and October 20th 2020.

He also commented that the government had been seeking to raise public awareness of scams through social media, stating that the Department for Work and Pensions had made multiple posts referencing Pension Scams and #ScamSmart in total across Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn in the period from March to September 2020.

He added that the government’s Project Bloom, a cross-government taskforce that aims to bring together law enforcement, government and industry members to share intelligence, raise awareness of and the reporting of scams through public communication campaigns, and take enforcement action where appropriate, would continue to operate.

Opperman continued: “Project Bloom has identified that the methodology of scammers is continually evolving, moving away from the traditional type of theft of peoples pensions through setting up a sham scheme, towards investment related fraud.

"Investment related fraud includes persuading individuals to invest in ventures that do not exist or using multiple charging structures that the member is not aware of.”

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