Government to ban cold calling on all financial products

The ban will cover all financial products, including insurance and cryptocurrency schemes.

The UK government is set to announce a ban on all cold calls selling financial products as part of a crackdown on scams.
The move will extend a current ban which stops cold calls about pension products so it covers all financial products, including insurance and cryptocurrency schemes.

The government will also work with Ofcom to clamp down on number “spoofing” using new technology, preventing scammers from impersonating legitimate UK phone numbers.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “Scammers devastate lives and livelihoods, preying on people’s fears to cheat them out of their money. To clamp down on these crimes, we have to prevent fraudsters from infiltrating their way into people’s lives in the first place.

“That’s why we’re stopping scams at source by taking away the routes used to target victims, keeping people safe and shielding them from the criminals responsible.”

Following the announcement, Quilter released new figures which show that just 29% of pension fraud reports are sent for police investigation on average.

The figures from a freedom of information request show that over the last eight years less than a third (1,173) of the nearly 4,006 pension fraud reports submitted to Action Fraud were disseminated to local police forces for investigation by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB), which sits alongside Action Fraud.

The government’s new fraud strategy includes introducing a suite of new measures such as launching a new National Fraud Squad led by the National Crime Agency and the City of London Police and investing £30 million in a state-of-the-art reporting centre, among other actions.

In some years the number of pension fraud reports to Action Fraud that were sent to the police for investigation was as low as 6%. However, in 2020 when the pandemic hit it rose to 66%. It is unclear how many of these ended up with a conviction.

According to Action Fraud some losses can run into the millions, but the average loss to each victim is around £75,000. However, finding an accurate average can prove difficult as many victims are unaware they have fallen victim to a fraud.

Jon Greer, head of retirement policy at Quilter, commented: “Unfortunately, especially during economically difficult times, scammers thrive as hard-working people get their heads turned by too good to be true deals. These figures show that over the past few years, as finances have been stretched, many more scams have had to be passed on to local forces for investigation. This shows why it is important that the government’s new strategy gets a grip on fraud.

“Sadly, because pensions are for the long term it can be years before victims realise they have been scammed and their money has gone. Once they are uncovered pension scams are extremely complex, they can span multiple jurisdictions. This all makes investigating the scams incredibly time consuming and expensive, which is why the police have to prioritise those few cases where they have a chance of success.

“The pension transfer regulations brought in 2021 have had a positive impact on highlighting scams. However, even with those regulations in place scams are still being perpetrated making the Online Safety Bill an important piece of the puzzle.

“Getting retribution for a pension scam can be tricky so we should be going to the root of the problem and that starts with getting the Online Safety Bill over the line. The government continue to risk people losing their life savings while this legislation stalls.”

Rozi Jones (Professional Adviser)

Retirement ProfessionalsGovernment to ban cold calling on all financial products