Campaign group Pensions Life has hit out against the government’s inefficient response to pensions scams, branding it as “utterly ineffective” at tackling the problem.
The government published a review into the various scams aimed at pensioners in December last year, stating that it takes the threat of scams “very seriously”. Whilst the review concluded that “pension scams can cost people their life savings, and leave people facing retirement with limited income, and little or no opportunity to build their pension savings back up”, Angela Brooks from campaign group Pensions Life argues that “the government, HMRC, the Pensions Regulator (tPR) and the FCA…have done little to combat this scourge effectively.”
Research by the Money Advice Service suggests that there could be as many as 8 scam calls every second, the equivalent of 250 million calls per year. the problem also appears to be worsening, with individuals reporting nearly £19 million in suspected pension liberation fraud between April 2015 and March 2016 – twice as much as for the same period in 2014-15.
The figures are likely to be higher than this, as there are concerns that some suspected scams are under-reported to the police, or other law enforcement agencies. Brooks argues that “Victims of pension scams do report many cases to the police and other law enforcement agencies, but the police do absolutely nothing as it is ‘too difficult’ to investigate”.
Brooks, a long-time campaigner, adds: “The government and the regulators should talk to the victims. It is clear from the wording of this consultation document that there are still gaping holes in the understanding of how scams work and how they have evolved over the past few years. Since 2013, the government has refused to engage with the victims and this has to stop. The victims’ voices have to be heard since they, above everybody else, are the experts and the government should learn from them.”