The DMA has launched a pensions marketing toolkit as fears grow that legitimate direct marketing will once again be dragged through the gutter as rogue firms threaten to turn changes to the pensions market into a new mis-selling scandal.
The move follows Daily Mail claims that pensions data is already being sold by data firms without the permission or even knowledge of those on the database. The Information Commissioner’s Office has already launched an investigation.
According to the DMA: “In the first four months, pensioners will remove an estimated £6bn of cash from their pensions, which will in turn create many new selling opportunities for brands. However, lessons from PPI and accident claims should serve as a warning.”
The DMA toolkit includes “helpful at-a-glance information” for brands to share with their customers, including some to help them understand what to do should their retirement be disturbed and they receive unwanted one-to-one pensions-related marketing.
The bulk of the advice covers cold-calling and lead-generation, as well as sections on data, email, direct mail and mobile marketing as well as targeting vulnerable consumers.
It also flags up the fact that the Government will provide free, impartial advice to anyone who wants to know more about the pension changes, to help people make informed choices.
Meanwhile the ICO said the Daily Mail report confirmed its fears that there would be a huge increase in the number of scam texts and calls linked to pensions when the law changes.
ICO head of enforcement Steve Eckersley said: “What the Daily Mail has shown us is very worrying indeed. It suggests a frequent disregard of laws that are in place specifically to protect consumers. We will be launching an investigation immediately.
“The information we’ve been shown supports the work we’ve been doing to target the shady industry that operates behind the nuisance of cold calls and spam texts.”
“We’re already aware of the potential for a huge spike in the number of scam texts and calls linked to pensions when the law changes in April, and have already taken action against a company that was sending out misleading messages.
“What we’ve seen here confirms those fears. Personal data is such a valuable asset, particularly financial information. The worst case scenario here is this information getting into the wrong hands and being used to target individuals at a critical point in their financial lives.”
The ICO has powers to issue companies with fines of up to £500,000 for the most serious breaches of the Data Protection Act, while it can also pursue criminal prosecutions around unlawfully obtaining or accessing personal data.
The Telephone Preference Service is also urging those benefitting from new pensions allowances in April to prepare for, and report, nuisance and illegal callers to help deal with rogue marketers.
Chris Combemale, executive director of the DMA, said: “Rogue marketers bypass the Telephone Preference Service and so fail to put the consumer first. Such marketers give the whole industry a bad name. We urge consumers to report rogue marketers, particularly once the law changes on April 6, and help us stamp this out.”
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