Pension watchdogs formalise information sharing
The Pensions Ombudsman and The Pensions Regulator have signed an information-sharing agreement in light of the recent rise in pension scams. The agreement will see the organisations share information about complaints and concerns with the aim of protecting scheme members.
On 21 May it was announced that The Pensions Ombudsman and The Pensions Regulator (TPR) signed an information-sharing agreement in March of this year. The two entities have worked together for a number of years, and the agreement essentially formalises those working practices.
The key provision of the agreement states that the Ombudsman and TPR will look to share information where that disclosure would assist in their respective investigations.
In signing the agreement the Ombudsman and TPR acknowledge that whilst reforms in recent years such as auto-enrolment and pension freedoms have created opportunities, the industry has also seen a worrying rise in pension scams.
A recent survey by the Prudential polled 1,000 individuals and found that 9 per cent had been approached about their pensions by what they now thought were scammers. The research also identified that 33 per cent of individuals aged over 55 were concerned about the risk of being defrauded following the introduction of pension freedoms in 2015. Recent data from Action Fraud confirmed that 991 cases had been reported since 2015, involving losses of more than £22m.
The research from Prudential also concluded that fewer than 18 per cent of those approached by suspected scammers had gone on to report their concerns. In fact, according to the research, just under half of those approached by potential fraudsters stated that they did not report their concerns because they did not know who to contact or how to do so.
Against this backdrop, both the Ombudsman and TPR acknowledge that the pensions landscape is changing and that "key stakeholders need to work together… to protect pension scheme members and ensure a safe pensions saving environment". There is, therefore, as acknowledged by the Ombudsman and TPR, an increased need for "robust governance standards". In working more closely together, they aim to identify trends (such as scams) and deal with issues identified quickly and effectively.