In follow up to our blog ´Cold calling ban not approved´, we can confirm that as of the 9th January 2019, that companies who cold call with advice on pensions schemes could face fines of up to £500,000. Notice I highlight the word ´could´.
If you have read our other blog you will already know that we have been waiting several years for a cold calling ban to be put in place. It is more than irritating to see that instead of a blanket ban on all cold calling they have imposed a fine on certain cold calls.
This also begs the question of how they had time to pass the legislation for the fine, but not the legislation to simply just ban all cold calling – FULL STOP – no ifs no buts. I also wonder how they are going to track down the cold callers and enforce the fines onto them. Will it be the people making the cold calls that get the fines? or will it be the companies setting up the call centres, or god forbid will it be the masterminds and serial scammers who continue to set up toxic, high-risk funds to lure in their victims?
The victims of the Continental Wealth management scam were cold called, see their story here.
An article written by the Telegraph confirms my fears about the lack of ability the regulators have in enforcing the fines they have already issued. The ICO has been fining companies for nuisance calls since 2015, it is estimated that nearly half of all land line calls are cold calls made to the elderly!
´The ICO has issued more than £5.7m in fines to cold call companies for breaching nuisance rules since 2015, but of the 27 fines issued only nine have been paid in full, recently published government figures revealed.´
The sad truth from these figures clearly shows that despite fines being made they are not being imposed, the companies are simply not paying them. If companies are happy to ignore the fines then they are probably happy to ignore the threat of a fine and continue to make cold calls. Figures from Ofgem have shown that consumers were bombarded with 3.9 billion nuisance phone calls and texts last year but only 27 fines were issued and just nine of those actually paid in full!
There are also so many loopholes these companies – who operate the call centers – can leap through. People must opt out of being cold called, if they have not done this, then companies can claim they were happy to receive the calls.
For instance, if you are online – say on a compare website – and you do not tick the box to state you do not want to be contacted by third parties, you are giving your permission to be contacted. This then means that your data is sold on and the company that calls you about the pension scheme transfer can claim that you were happy to be contacted. It wasn´t a cold call as they had opted in.
The loophole enables them to potentially escape any fine, as technically the receiver of the call had agreed to being contacted via a third party. The company making the calls can claim that they were not making a “cold call”. It feels like this legislation has been made after the horse has bolted from the stable. Hundreds of people have been scammed through the use of cold calling and hundreds more will continue to be scammed with the use of cold calling techniques, through loopholes.
Furthermore, we still have the issue of the offshore firms, the firms that – due to being offshore – don´t feel that they have to abide by any rules that apply to the UK pension and investment market. These unregulated firms often employ unqualified advisers and will surely not be phased by the new litigation. They will continue to cold call and mis-sell these inappropriate toxic funds, that invariably pay the scammers high commissions and leave the victims pension fund in tatters.
Pension scams involving cold calls such as Capita Oak, Continental Wealth Management, Trafalgar Multi Asset Fund have left hundreds of victims with out a decimated pension fund. These unregulated, shameless firms and their snake salesmen are not going to acknowledge the treat of a fine, nor the administer of a fine. AND if they are fined do the government really think they will pay it?
Serial scammers like Stephen Ward who started out on the ARK pension scam, went on to scam again AND again, despite the scams being shut down by HMRC and the tPR again and again! None of the scammers who promoted these scam have been put behind bars and no money has been paid back to the victims. The scammers show no remorse for their actions. These blatant financial criminals aren´t going to pay a fine for cold calling if they aren´t going to admit the pension scheme´s they set up were fraudulent.
A quick google search of cold call gives untold amounts of advice on how to do it efficiently in 2019! Whilst some of these companies aren´t UK based, the evidence is clear. Cold calling pays and the companies that benefit from cold calling are not going to suddenly stop making them.
The regulators are really going to have to step up and do some serious regulating and enforcing if these fines are to be issued, actually followed up and collected.
The sad truth is that whilst the fines sound great on paper, they will do little to protect the public from being scammed.
So again we would like to say – loud and clear
If you are cold called – just hang up!
Safeguard your pension from the scammers!