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Govt enlists new guidance body in battle against cold-calling

The House of Lords has agreed to enlist the Government’s new combined guidance body in the fight to stop cold-calling.

In a debate yesterday, the Lords tabled two amendments to the Financial Guidance and Claims Bill – the legislation that is to create a new single entity out of Pension Wise, The Pensions Advisory Service and The Money Advice Service – designed to tackle what was described as the “omnipresent menace” of cold-calling.

The first was to make the new body’s consumer protection function more explicit. The second orders the new guidance body to make an annual assessment of the impact of cold-calling on consumer detriment. It must also advice the Secretary of State if it sees any areas where a ban on cold-calling would be beneficial.

Both amendments passed, and did a further amendment forcing the guidance body to pass casework on to the FCA when it sees consumers being approached inappropriately over pensions or debt advice.

Liberal Democrat Peer Lord Sharkey says: “It widens [the guidance body’s] remit to something closer to the real-world situation for consumers and enables it to deal more comprehensively with the dangers and risks that consumers face.

“Pensions guidance, debt advice and money guidance are all aimed at doing this, of course, but there are related areas where intervention would be of direct benefit: cold-calling is one.

“We have discussed cold calling many times during the passage of the Bill and on many other occasions in this House. On several occasions I have described it as an omnipresent menace—and no one has disagreed…It is not only a thoroughgoing social nuisance; it is often a threat, directly and comprehensively, to consumers’ financial well-being. It is often an invitation—or more exactly, an inducement —to criminal activity.”

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Comments

There are 3 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Perhaps the first step should be to establish the sources of these cold calls and, assuming that can even be done, decide on what, if any, measures are likely to have any deterrent effect. If the majority are from offshore call centres, it’s hard to see how even a ban enshrined in UK law will make any difference.

    All this talk about widening the remit of the new combined guidance body to enable it to deal more comprehensively with the dangers and risks that consumers face is largely hot air. What is the new combined guidance body expected actually to be able to do to deal more comprehensively with the dangers and risks that consumers face? All it can do is warn people to be on their guard, which could be done by requiring scheme administrators and providers to issue brightly coloured standalone leaflets with every benefits or valuation statement, as many already do. Those who ignore them and still engage with cold callers do so at their own peril. There are limits to what can be done to protect people from their own folly or gullibility and trying endlessly to come up with solutions that’ll probably make little if any difference is just a waste of time and money.

    • Christopher Petrie 25th October 2017 at 1:07 pm

      If it becomes illegal to cold call on pensions, then there can be a blitz of TV and radio advertising to tell people any unsolicited phone call or text they get about pensions is illegal and should therefore be considered a scam.

      The message would get through to all, eventually.

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