I have a landline and apart from my in-laws, the only people that call on it are “marketing” companies, PPI “help lines” and my friend’s alarm company.
My number is unlisted and I am registered with the telephone preference service but that doesn’t stop the calls, although they aren’t that regular.
Thankfully I am unlikely to answer the phone and let people just leave messages, even the in-laws (don’t tell my husband) but I am in minority of people who can ignore a ringing phone. For those that are lonely and vulnerable a phone call may well be the highlight of their day and they will answer the phone and listen to what the person has to say as it isn’t polite to just hang up.
The pensions cold calling ban will put off some scammers, but scammers by their very nature don’t follow the rules so will still call because they are unlikely to be found out, tracked down or punished.
Don’t get me wrong I do think the DWP's recently announced pension cold call ban is all a step in the right direction but unless we ban all cold calls, including electronic communications, people will not know who is and isn’t a scammer. Pensions are something that has a high value so is being targeted by scammers but they will soon move onto something else.
We will never be able to deal with or ban calls from overseas, but if all cold calls for financial products and investments are banned in the UK it will be clearer to those who are getting these calls that they shouldn’t be talking to them.
As with a lot of these things education is key and educating the general public what a cold call is and what it isn’t, will be difficult. Those impacted by these types of scams aren’t likely to be taking the same kind of interest in this type of legislation, as those that are already aware of financial scams, so how we get the message across is the biggest challenge. It is clear that it can’t be left down to the press and leafletting rarely works in my opinion and isn’t really very environmentally friendly or targeted.
One suggestion has been that it is forced into the storylines of popular soap operas, I can see the merits in this. Although not a fan myself, it does appear to get people talking about issues that wouldn’t usually get discussed. I have to say I would be surprised if the producers decided to run the storyline, it doesn’t quite have the same shock factor as something more graphic even if it would have the same devastation in real life.
Where this all leaves us in anyone’s guess but if one person is protected because of the changes when they do finally happen it has to be worth it.
Claire Trott is Head of Pensions Strategy at Technical Connection