CA Summit: £0.5bn pension scams tip of iceberg – TPR

The half a billion pounds known to be lost to pension scams is just the tip of the iceberg, Pension Regulator TPR chief executive Lesley Titcomb has warned. By Gill Wadsworth

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Speaking at the Corporate Adviser summit today Titcomb said it was impossible to quantify the real figure lost to fraud since much goes unreported.

Titcomb said: “With more freedom and choice comes greater risk to members so we must provide greater protection in areas such as pension scams. We know that half a billion pounds has been lost to pension scams but we know the total is likely to be far higher.”

Titcomb described pension scammers as ‘sophisticated, resourceful and tenacious’, adding she expected the level of fraud to worsen in light of the freedom and choice regime.

TPR has updated its Scorpion guidance, which is aimed at making members and trustees aware of the dangers of scams, and says it will continue to work collaboratively with other law enforcement agencies.

Titcomb highlighted the prevalence of cold calling in facilitating pension fraud and while she agreed with the sentiment of one delegate who suggested the practice should be outlawed, she noted that the ease with which overseas scammers can cold-call the UK meant policing such a rule would be impractical.

Titcomb said: “Speaking personally I would be delighted if cold calling were banned. But in this country it is very hard to ban it as we have seen with payment protection insurance, pension liberation and everything else.”

Titcomb also called on advisers to support individuals and trustees in protecting themselves against scams.  

She said: “We have been clear that consumers have their part to play by arming themselves with the facts but trustees and advisers should be warning them to be vigilant and informed about scams.”