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Zurich launches pilot pension scam helpline with The Pensions Advisory Service

February 1, 2017

Leading UK pension provider Zurich has joined up with The Pensions Advisory Service (TPAS) to pilot a new pension scam helpline.

The helpline will offer impartial guidance to customers requesting to transfer their savings into schemes which Zurich has flagged as suspicious. Under current legislation, providers have little power to block transfers when they have concerns the money is heading into a scam.

Jim Sykes, Chief Operations Officer for Zurich UK Life, said he hopes the helpline encourages consumers to think twice before handing over their savings. “We are delighted to be working with The Pensions Advisory Service to pilot this new line of defence against pension scams,” he said.

“We will encourage customers to contact the free helpline when we have clear concerns over the legitimacy of a receiving scheme. The helpline will provide an additional safety net for our customers and help to reinforce the warnings we already give to savers about potential scams.

“If the helpline is successful, we would like to see it rolled out across the industry to frustrate scammers and prevent more consumers falling victim to fraudsters.”

Michelle Cracknell, Chief Executive of The Pensions Advisory Service, said, "We frequently have pension savers contact our service concerned about why their pension provider or scheme is delaying or refusing to transfer their money. However, we know that there are other pension savers who are not contacting us and insisting to the provider or scheme that their money is transferred.

“We hope that this pilot can highlight that an independent voice that explains why the provider is delaying making the transfer, can help people understand why the provider is carrying out the due diligence.

The pilot will use a dedicated number where our pension specialists will take this opportunity to explain to the saver all of the potential reasons for this, including the likelihood of it being a scam.”

The Government is currently consulting on a range of measures to tackle pension scams, including a ban on cold calling.

“If people know that anyone ringing them out of the blue is breaking the law, they are more likely to hang up, which will help to prevent scams before they occur,” Sykes added.

He also said there should be stricter rules on unregulated introducers, who are often the link between consumers and unscrupulous schemes.

Furthermore, he called for the earnings link to be restored for occupational pension schemes. This would close the legal loop hole that allows scams to masquerade as occupational pension schemes.

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