Chichester might be best known for its Cathedral, theatre, and harbour but the Information Commissioner’s Office has unearthed something rather more unsavoury after raiding business premises as part of an investigation into pension nuisance calls.
The move, which is thought to be the first time the regulator has executed a warrant over pension cold calling, follows a change in the law which came into force in January, nearly three years after first being mooted.
The rules mean calls can only be made by a trustee or manager of a pension scheme or a person or firm authorised by the FCA; and the person being called must have either specifically consented to being called by that company, or the caller’s relationship with the individual must meet a strict criteria. Those who break the law face fines of up to £500,000.
Even at the time not everyone was convinced the ban would be effective, however.
Tom Selby, a senior analyst at pensions firm AJ Bell, claimed: “Prohibiting cold-calling is only part of the solution and will by no means eradicate the threat of scam activity altogether. Pensions remain a juicy target for fraudsters and some will inevitably look to circumvent the ban or simply ignore it altogether.”
Nevertheless, ICO enforcement group manager David Clancy insists the law now offers greater protection for people troubled by cold calls about their “hard-earned” pensions. He added: “This search and our investigation should serve as a warning to business owners that they must follow the law.”
The warrant, executed in the centre of the city, saw computer equipment and documents seized for analysis. The ICO’s investigation into the matter is ongoing.
Pensions cold calls banned at last – but doubts remain
PPI cold call ban failing to stem stampede of cowboys
Pensions cold call ban to come into force this autumn
Fresh delay to pensions cold calling ban sparks uproar
Pensions cold calling ban set to be in force by June
Lords cold call ban ‘to fuel more nuisance calls not less’