TPR calls on pension schemes to improve suspected scam reporting

The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has called on pension schemes to report suspected scams following a “concerning” long-term drop in reporting.

Figures from Action Fraud showed that the number of pension scam reports fell from 1,788 in 2014 to 358 in 2020.

TPR warned that the lack of data from pension scam reports could be “hiding the true picture” of the pension scams landscape.

Although there has been a slight increase in reporting in 2021 so far, TPR has urged the industry to be on “high alert” and sign up to its Pledge to Combat Pension Scams campaign.

Action Fraud data showed that pension scam losses can range from less than £1,000 to £500,000, but the regulator noted that the actual amount lost to scams is “likely to be much higher” as many victims do not realise they have been scammed until many years later.

Furthermore, TPR raised concerns that scammers could use the financial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic to their advantage in defrauding savers.

“To fight the scourge of pension scams and keep up with scammers’ ever-changing tactics, we need a clear understanding of the size of the problem and good-quality intelligence,” commented TPR executive director of frontline regulation, Nicola Parish.

“While we’ve seen no evidence of a significant increase in pension scams during Covid-19, we believe many across the industry, including trustees, pension providers and administrators, are not reporting suspected scams at a time when the pandemic could leave savers more vulnerable. 

“It’s vital the pensions industry reports suspected scams via Action Fraud, or by calling 101 in Scotland, which is why we made reporting one of the six principles in our Pledge to Combat Pension Scams campaign.

“We are working with Action Fraud and industry to ensure the reporting process is clear, understood and effective.”

More than 200 organisations have signed up to TPR’s Pledge campaign to date.

“It’s vital that instances of pension fraud and attempted scams are reported to Action Fraud,” added Action Fraud head, Pauline Smith.

“Every report helps police get that bit closer to the people committing these awful crimes. Information provided in reports to Action Fraud also allows for quick-time disruption activity to take place, such as the removal of fraudulent websites and the blocking of telephone numbers being used to commit fraud, which helps prevent more people falling victim.”

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