Business raided for pensions cold calling in ICO’s first move since ban

Kim Kaveh reports...

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has searched an unnamed business premises in Chichester as part of an investigation of the firm suspected of making nuisance pensions calls.

Conducted yesterday (3 October), this was the first time the ICO executed a search warrant in relation to pensions calls since the introduction of the cold-calling ban, which came into force in January this year.

The ICO has the power to take enforcement action against organisations that persistently ignore the rules, including pensions cold-calling. Firms which make unsolicited calls to people about their pension could face fines of up to £500,000.

Furthermore, cold calls can only be made where a person or firm is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority; they are trustees or managers of a pension scheme of which the person called is a member; or if the person being called had previously consented to being contacted.

The warrant, which was executed in the city centre, saw computer equipment and documents seized for analysis as part of the ongoing investigation.

ICO enforcement group manager David Clancy said: “The law now offers greater protection for people troubled by cold calls about their hard-earned pensions.”

He added: “[Yesterday’s] search and our investigation should serve as a warning to business owners that they must follow the law.”

Following the introduction of the cold-calling ban, the insolvency service warned savers to guard their pension pots from scammers as it wound up 24 companies that had carried out a form of pension misuse.

Last October, four people behind a £13.7m cold-calling scam which cost 245 people their savings were banned from being pension scheme trustees by The Pensions Regulator.

The ICO’s action comes as enforcement action relating to pension scams continues to ramp up. Yesterday (3 October), it was announced that three directors who liberated just under £12m worth of pension savings were disqualified for a total of 34 years for misleading investors over a period of 30 months.