PSIG needs you to help beat pension scams

Pension scams can happen to anyone, with scammers using sophisticated techniques to con people out of their hard-earned retirement cash.

The Pension Scams Industry Group (PSIG) – the voluntary industry group leading the way in due diligence and information-sharing to help combat pensions scams – is determined to do all we can to prevent scams. But we need your help.

We are working on a number of fronts, including two major initiatives.

Understanding pension scams

Pension scams are truly devastating, with the average victim losing £82,000. Last year’s ScamSmart campaign from The Pensions Regulator (TPR) and the Financial Conduct Authority suggested it could take the average saver 22 years to earn a pension pot that size.

That’s why it’s so important that we understand the current state of scams from a practitioner point of view.

As a result, we have joined forces with the Police Foundation to launch a new research study (survey now closed) to help us further understand pension scams.

Our comprehensive survey looks at the action industry is taking to protect pension scheme members and will also provide valuable views on where resources should be focused in future.

We’ve had great support from the sector so far – with the Pensions Administration Standards Association (PASA), the Association of British Insurers (ABI) and the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA) all helping to shape the survey content and helping to distribute it widely.

We are fortunate also to have the support of TPR as well as Project Bloom, the multi-agency task force set up to tackle pension scams.

TPR is encouraging all schemes to participate. We at PSIG know it’s a big ask when everyone is busy, but we need to get a clearer picture on the extent of scams activity so we can better focus our limited resources.

The survey opened in January and will be open until 14 February. It is a fairly short survey, taking approximately 15 minutes, although a little more effort will be needed to complete the separate (optional) statistical survey. The information provided will be collected and stored on Police Foundation IT systems and shared with PSIG. It will be treated as confidential and destroyed within two years of collection. No responses will be publicly identified.

Sharing intelligence

Our second major initiative is on sharing intelligence. That’s not just with the authorities, but within the pensions community so we can help ourselves to protect our members.

We are working alongside CIFAS, a not-for-profit organisation with decades of expertise in gathering and sharing intelligence to prevent bank fraud.

We are aiming to build a shared network of open source information on potentially dodgy arrangements, gathered by many practitioners as part of their due diligence.

We aim to build a system where PSIG members can see intelligence from other members without having to reinvent the same wheel time and again. It needs to be safe to use, so our first challenge is navigating the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

We believe that a private industry scams intelligence sharing tool will help:

  • better protect members
  • reduce the huge cost of checking whether something that appear suspicious is likely to be a scam
  • streamline reporting of suspicious players to Action Fraud.

Pension scams are ever-present and we need to keep on our toes to combat them. Our limited resources mean we also need to work smart: collaboration is key.

Will you join the fight?

Margaret Snowden OBE

By Margaret Snowdon OBE
Chair of PSIG