AJ Bell urges govt to create specific minister role for tackling scams

AJ Bell has urged the government to consider handing a specific responsibility for tackling scams to a minister.

The investment platform suggested that the “evolving nature” of scams, as well as the impact they have had on society since the outbreak of coronavirus, means a greater Parliamentary focus is required.

Responding to the Work and Pensions Committee’s inquiry which has looked into the issue of pension scams, AJ Bell set out several ways the government and regulators can develop further action, and “take the fight to pension scammers”.

“The financial uncertainty created by the COVID-19 outbreak is like blood in the water for scammers,” commented AJ Bell senior technical consultant, Rachel Vahey. “Millions of people face the prospect of unemployment, losing their main source of income and staring down the barrel of serious financial hardship.

“Such turmoil will inevitably see more people targeted by scammers, with their hard-earned – and sizeable – retirement pots likely to be a prime focus.”

Vahey also suggested the issue extends beyond pension scams, and towards investment and other types of financial fraud.

“We need as a society to take scams more seriously; to put our money where our mouth is,” she added. “Creating an overarching role in Parliament – such as a Minister for Scam Prevention whose sole focus is stopping the ever-growing swell of scams – could be an effective way to help people protect their hard-earned wealth.”

The investment platform also believes that policymakers should adopt a range of responses similar to the ‘fire triangle’, according to Vahey, in the battle to reduce fraud.

“Similar to the fire triangle – where you need heat, fuel and oxygen for a fire to burn – there are three elements we need to stop scams,” Vahey said.

“We need to raise awareness so that people are tuned into the threats of scams, and their implications. We need tougher penalties and consequences for scammers, so that the downside or risk of their action is a serious deterrent. And finally, we need to enable pension schemes to take the right action to stop scammers where possible.”

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