The UK Treasury has signed into force a statutory instrument banning any unsolicited phone calls for direct marketing purposes in relation to occupational or personal pension schemes.
This means that within 21 days, the ban will become effective and all cold-calls will be illegal.
The amendment legislation – called The Privacy and Electronic Communications (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2018 – was signed on 19 December 2018 and will come into force on the 9 January 2019.
John Glen, the economic secretary to the Treasury, said: “Pensions cold calling is a scourge, so I was pleased and proud to see Parliament pass a ban on it this week.”
Parliament passed the amendment motion on 18 December 2018, and the statutory instrument was signed the day after.
According to the amendment, “a person must not use, or instigate the use of, a public electronic communications service to make unsolicited calls to an individual for the purpose of direct marketing in relation to occupational pension schemes or personal pension schemes”.
The only exemptions to the amendment are: if the caller is an authorised person or if they are a trustee or a manager of a pension scheme; if the individual being called has given consensus on being contacted via phone calls or if they are a client of the caller and/or did not refuse being contacted for marketing purposes.
The ban was well received by pension experts; however, they claim more clarity and implementation techniques of the ban are needed from the government.
“A ban is overdue but very welcome; it acknowledges that there is endemic criminality around pensions switching, and this will attempt to cut off the main access for crooks,” said Peter Bradshaw, director of Selectapension.
“It will be virtually impossible to stop cold calling though, so it’s success will depend on communicating to the public that it is illegal, and therefore they should not entertain any approaches made directly by phone, text or email.
“If they haven’t decided already, the government should support the ban by an awareness campaign, possibly T.V. advertising, and also suggest how the public should handle cold calls’’.
Similarly, Jon Greer, head of retirement policy at Quilter, said that the UK government needs to think about the “nuances and complications” that the ban introduces, and therefore a media campaign to inform the people is needed.
“Despite the Government legislating to ban pension cold calling it is unlikely that the general public will be aware of it without a concerted mainstream media campaign. The FCA recently published the results of its Scamsmart campaign and while it showed it had raised awareness, it also found that over half (52%) of 45-65-year olds with a pension don’t think they are likely to be targeted by a pension scam, which could mean they are unattuned to the risk.”