Investigation launched into pensions
An investigation has been kicked off by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) after claims were made that the data of millions of people's pensions are being sold to cold-calling firms and shady fraud types. The ICO have said that the rumours they've heard are "very worrying" and they will be talking to regulators and the police.
As you'll know, there's been changes which means that, from next month, people can cash-in their savings when they retire, rather than buying an annuity. These changes have seen increased concern about an upswing in fraud.
According to reports, people's pension details are being sold off for as little as 5p without consent. Over at the Daily Mail, reporters said they were offered information about 15,000 pensions without checks being made. This backs up previous ICO warnings that these reforms could lead to more scamming.
Steve Eckersley, the head of enforcement at the ICO, said: "It suggests a frequent disregard of laws that are in place specifically to protect consumers. We will be launching an investigation immediately. We're aware of allegations raised against several companies involved in the cold-calling sector, and will be making inquiries to establish whether there have been any breaches of the Data Protection Act or Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations."
If any company is found guilty, there could be fines of £500,000 dished out and criminal prosecutions could be brought forward to anyone found obtaining personal data.
Eckersley added: "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."