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Scams could be behind 1 in 12 pension transfers

New data has shed a light on how many pension transfers could be scams, but also raises questions over the potential efficacy of the Government’s cold-calling ban.

Just 20 per cent of pension transfer scams have originated through cold calling, data from 550 pension schemes administered by Xafinity suggests.

Figures from Xafinity’s pension scam identification unit shows 80 per cent of suspect cases it encountered did not originate from a cold caller, suggesting that legislation to ban cold calling will have only a limited effect in preventing pension liberation fraud.

The consultancy says one in 12 pension transfer cases it dealt with is likely to have been prompted by a scammer, with a third of potentially fraudulent cases identified by the involvement of an unauthorised adviser or introducer, according to Xafinity.

Evidence of scam activity has reduced marginally from similar analysis done last year, when one in nine transfers were identified as potential scam cases, but remains high, especially given the increased focus on scams, says Xafinity.

Xafinity pension scam identification unit head Jackie Warwick says: “In many cases when we speak to the member it transpires that they have had no contact with the IFA who has signed off the discharge to the trustees. When a member realises that they have effectively been “advised” by someone they have never spoken to they often decide for themselves that something is wrong and therefore choose not to proceed with the transfer.

“Members often tell us how appreciative they are of the steps being taken by the trustees to protect them and their fellow scheme members from the threat of pension scams.”

Xafinity consulting actuary Ben Fisher says: “Our scam identification telephone service continues to identify tell-tale signs of scam activity that would be almost impossible to pick-up just from completed paper transfer forms alone. The perpetrators of pension scams will often step-in to complete the paperwork themselves to ensure it doesn’t contain any indication of a scam.”

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