The Government’s commitment to rid the country of telemarketing sharks has been called into question following an admission that the legislation which would see pensions cold calling banned has been delayed until at least next year.
Chancellor Philip Hammond first revealed plans to outlaw the practice in November 2016, and following a consultation ministers said the ban would be imposed by June this year.
However, economic secretary to the Treasury John Glen has admitted that there will be yet another consultation on the draft regulations, triggering doubts that the legislation to make company directors personally liable for Information Commissioner’s Office fines will face similar hurdles.
Glen said: “Pensions cold calling is an important and complex issue. Pensions scams can have devastating consequences and cold calling is the most common method used to initiate pensions scams, so the government has taken the time to ensure the ban works for consumers.
“The Government will imminently publish a consultation seeking views on a set of draft regulations to ban pensions cold calling. Once we have considered all responses to the consultation, in the Autumn we intend to lay regulations under the affirmative procedure and subject to parliamentary approval bring the regulations into force as soon as possible thereafter.”
Official figures from the City of London Police reveal that savers have been conned out of more than £51m in the first three months of the 2018/19 tax year. This is a significant increase from investment fraud of £30m reported in the first quarter of 2017/18.
In total, £167m in investment fraud losses were reported in 2017/18, with the average fraud victim aged 57.
An HM Treasury spokesperson said: “We’re committed to introducing a ban on pensions cold calling as quickly as possible. Following debates in parliament, and having considered evidence from the industry, we will shortly be publishing a short consultation on the draft legislation to ensure it is as effective as possible. We intend to lay the required regulations before Parliament this Autumn.”
One industry source said: “If it is going to take over two years to get this through, how long will it be before the ICO can tackle rogue telemarketing directors who simply shut up shop to avoid ICO fines? I realise that Brexit is dominating Westminster debate, but these are serious issues which need to be addressed.”
When Hammond first announced the proposed ban on pensions cold calling, there were claims that the move would result in more cold calls not less as it would move compliant users of outbound calling out of the way to leave the field clear for rogues to expand activity into.
At the time, the Telephone Compliance Council said: “Fraudsters are not going to be hindered by telemarketing regulation, and rogue companies fold and start under a new name, or if they are based overseas cannot be touched by UK authorities.”
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