Looking back: The Pensions Age 2023 Scams Campaign

The end of the 2023 also marks the end of our year-long focus into pensions scams, which took a closer look at the damaging impact of pension scams, the key ‘wins’ that have been achieved in the fight against fraud, and the work still to be done.

The campaign, which also received backing from then Pensions Minister, Laura Trott, aimed to hone in on the concerns around pension scams, delving deep into the many issues and challenges the industry faces in tackling fraudsters.

An area of increasing concern amongst industry experts, the campaign featured insight from The Pensions Regulator, Financial Conduct Authority and the Money and Pensions Service, with many raising concerns that squeezed household finances may have left pension savers more vulnerable to scammers.

The Pensions Age team kicked off the year by examining the scale of the problem, exploring the different types of pension scams, how the cost-of-living crisis may increase the prevalence of scams, and the impact of scams for both the member and the industry.

We also received crucial insight from key players in the fight against scams, as February saw us sit down with Pension Scams Industry Group (PSIG) chair, Margaret Snowdon, to discuss the group’s key priorities and guidance, and the latest challenges in the fight against fraud.

Diving into more of the technical details and psychology behind pension scams, March focused on the tricks used by scammers and the emotional impact of victims falling for such techniques.

But solutions, as well as awareness, are needed, and so our campaign aimed to highlight the vital role that the industry can play, focusing in on the communication improvements that could help to protect savers from falling prey to bad actors.

This came alongside broader industry guidance, as PSIG launched its Interim Practitioner Guide, helping to pull out the key takeaways for pension providers, administrators and trustees.

We also took a closer look at the best way to put this guidance into practice, sharing an industry round up of advice for how best to protect members against scams throughout the entire pensions-saving process.

But whilst industry commitments to change are laudable, these committments have to be supported by real action and change, as we looked back on the slow progress made around HMRC's tax treatment of pension scam victims, two years on from the Work and Pensions Committee’s recommendations on the issue.

Efforts for further improvement are on the horizon, however, as more recent updates highlighted the impact anti-scam regulations have had on pension transfers, how the industry has adjusted, and what the sector hopes will come out of the government’s review.

Yet despite these efforts, it is clear that there is still more work to be done, and whilst policy changes and regulatory shifts may move slowly, scammers are not, with new methods and approaches constantly evolving.

And it is important to remember is the devastating consequences of losing your pension savings to a scam, as we heard about the impact the Ark pensions scandal continues to have on Sue Flood, and how this experience has motivated her to work with the government and the pensions industry to become a ’victims’ champion’.

Whilst the Pensions Age scam campaign may be drawing to a close, the fight against pension scams is very much ongoing, and industry efforts to protect savers show no signs of weakening.

We can hope for a day when industry campaigns and efforts are no longer needed, but until then, the industry will need to contnue to work together to raise awareness and help to ensure that savers can build trust in their retirement, and in the pensions industry.

Take a look at the full Pensions Age scams awareness campaign articles below:

1. The scale of the problem
2. PSIG Guidance
3. Mind over Money
4. Combatting scams with communication
5. Next steps in the fight against scams
6. Breaking the impasse
7. Aim for the best
8. The last effects of pension liberation
9. Combining forces
10. Old dogs, new tricks
11. Trial and error
12. Winning the fight

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