Combating Pension Scams

Adrian Campbell

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I thought this was worthy of a mention in respect of how Spence and Partners as administrator to a pension scheme prevented a member from transferring her pension to a perceived pension scam.

The facts:

•    A member contacted our administration team to ask for a transfer quote.

 •    Appropriate due diligence was carried out and as a result we had concerns that the member was looking to transfer their pension to a suspect overseas entity.

 •    Upon contacting the member they advised  they had received a  cold call and that the Plan they were being  recommended  offered “significant growth potential”

 •    The member was advised that this could possibly be a Pensions Scam and that they should speak with the Pensions Advisory Service to obtain independent guidance/advice. 

 •    A letter enclosing the Financial Conduct Authority(FCA)/The Pensions Regulator (tPR) , Pensions consumer leaflet  on how to spot and avoid Pension Scams was also sent to the member: http://thepensionsregulator.gov.uk/brand- assets/16423_Pensions_consumer_leaflet_SCREEN.pdf

 •    Several weeks later the member contacted us to say that the company operating the plan had been suspended and therefore they would not be proceeding and expressed their gratitude for  our  due diligence.

Naturally, we were pleased to have saved the member from transferring her pension. This example demonstrates our commitment to ensuring that we apply the principles of the Pensions Industry Code of Good Practice Version 2 which was published in June 2018.

The steps that trustees, administrators and providers should take to protect scheme members from pension scams can be distilled into three core principles:

  1. Trustees, providers and administrators should raise awareness of pension scams for members and beneficiaries of their scheme.
  2. Trustees, providers and administrators should have robust, but proportionate, processes for assessing whether a receiving scheme may be operating as part of a pension scam, and for responding to that risk.
  3. Trustees, providers and administrators should generally be aware of the known current strategies of the perpetrators of pension scams in order to inform the due diligence they need to undertake and should refer to the warning flags as indicated in The Pensions Regulator’s Guidance, FCA alerts and by Action Fraud.

We also welcome the recent Scamscart Campaign advertising and information campaign, that was run by the FCA and tPR which was to help members of pension schemes to become more aware of scamming techniques and encourages them to report any they are aware of:
https://www.fca.org.uk/scamsmart

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