Pension fraud, or being encouraged to invest in high risk schemes that go wrong, can be absolutely devastating and often life changing.

Whilst it comes late in the day for many victims, there is more recognition than ever before within the Financial Services industry that the impact on a victim’s life is a serious problem. As part of that recognition and as an attempt to stem the swelling number of victims in recent years, various changes have been brought in to try and reduce the number of investors exposed to scams and high-risk illiquid investments, who then go on to suffer losses.

Nuisance Calls

One of the most common methods used by scammers is cold calls.

Research by the Money Advice Service suggests up to 8 scam calls per second are undertaken. This is the equivalent of 50 million calls per year. Regulations banning cold calls relating to pensions were passed by Parliament and came into force on the 9th January 2019. Additionally, research published in November 2019 found that consumers were targeted with 996 million nuisance calls and texts relating specifically to injury related claims (whiplash, holiday sickness), pension, PPI or other financial service-related claims. Effectively, that’s 2,728,767 calls and texts per day, or, 1,895 made every minute. These calls account for 23.2% of all cold calls in the UK. Whilst important rules to protect consumers have been brought into force, such as the Financial Guidance and Claims Act, this is still a murky area.

Pension Claims Companies

Sadly, investors have been cold called by Claims Management Companies or lead generating companies on behalf of solicitors, specifically in relation to pension/other investments they have made. Whilst making a claim may be valid option, you should question how your information was obtained. On receiving these cold calls or even texts many people end up entering into a contract to make a claim, often for very high fees. It can feel like a huge a relief when you are suffering any financial loss you can’t afford and a company approaches you ‘knowing’ how to help. It may even seem a total coincidence.

It should ALWAYS be of concern if a Claims Management Company or anyone else makes any unsolicited contact offering their services to you. Victims are most often unaware that their data (personal information such as contact details, national insurance number, date of birth and investment information) has been obtained without their consent or is being sold or shared.

Sometimes, however, it may seem obvious knowing you haven’t asked to be called. One example of this was recorded by a Resort Group investor who had been contacted by a Claims Management Company. She questioned how this firm knew a pension investment into The Resort Group had been made and how they obtained her information in order to cold call regarding making a pension claim. The caller talked around the question multiple times but when pushed admitted that Resort Group sales associates were in the process of selling investors data; when asked if that was even legal, he stated it wasn’t.

Selling Personal Data

Whilst there is no suggestion that The Resort Group themselves were involved in this activity there are also questions around how other Claims Management Companies have obtained Resort Group investors’ data and, alarmingly, this wasn’t an isolated incident. There have even been reports of cold callers getting pushy and even abusive when victims do not wish to discuss their investment problems. In some instances, large sums may have been involved in order to obtain your data! Remember, these companies have invested money in buying your information to get you to sign up and the objective is that you do!

Whilst victims are entitled to consider making a claim after suffering losses if they are eligible, ALWAYS be cautious when contacted out of the blue by companies behaving in this way. These forms of contact can be quite sophisticated and can come in various forms. It may be an overseas call-centre. It may be in the form of lead generators calling on behalf of solicitors. The mechanisms used to reach you are inventive and at times surprisingly sophisticated. Sometimes the caller will just seem friendly and so aware of your information that you assume they have the right to call you. They don’t! They are well aware they should not behave in this way and are breaching your rights.

Pension Claims Company Fees

It can be extremely distressing and un-nerving to find that a company has obtained your data without your consent, especially when the information they hold for you is very detailed or if they keep hassling you. It is not acceptable, and they deserve to be reported. You should also consider that if a firm is paying for your very private information, that cost is most likely to be passed onto you in fees, should you agree to make a claim after a cold call or unsolicited contact. Using a Claims Management Company who ‘just’ happen to contact you is unwise but sadly seen too often.

Equally always consider fees when considering making a claim should you wish to use a Claims Company. Expensive doesn’t mean better and are there are reputable firms who will provide an excellent service without obtaining your private information by dubious methods and then charging eyewatering fees for doing so. Whilst investors are becoming more aware about cold calling and transferring their pension after a cold call, they also need to be aware of how firms obtain their data and then contact many unsuspecting victims acting as sympathetic and helpful. It is likely it is not just you they are calling if they are behaving this way. They could be calling hundreds and even thousands of people.

Unsolicited Contact – Beware

Remember this is not limited to cold calls or texts. If a company contacts you in ANY way to discuss a claim and you have not instigated that contact, ALWAYS BEWARE.

So, what should you do if this happens?

  • Ask where the company contacting you has obtained your information.
  • Confirm the name of the company contacting you.
  • HANG UP.
  • Report the company to the FCA who regulate Claims Management companies: 020 7066 9870
  • You can also complain to ICO (Information Complaints Commissioner): 0303 123 1113

You should always shop around when you are considering making a claim for money redress. We offer a free pension claims consulting service so contact us to get claims advice now.

If you are worried about an investment you have made, please call us to get claims advice.