21st October 2014
The Government has promised tough sanctions for anyone trying to impersonate official sources of guidance when new pensions flexibility is introduced.
Under the “guidance guarantee”, Citizens Advice and The Pensions Advisory Service (TPAS) will help savers make a decision about whether to take money out of their pension funds when new rules come in next April.
Citizens Advice will provide face-to-face guidance, while TPAS will help customers over the phone.
The Government may, in future accredit other organisations to provide help under its guidance guarantee.
But Pensions Minister Steve Webb has proposed that anybody who is caught impersonating these services should face a jail sentence or a fine, in a bid to safeguard standards and protect savers from fraud.
This would mean creating a new criminal offence of “falsely claiming to be giving pensions guidance under Treasury arrangements”, Money Marketing reported.
The amendment would make it illegal for a person who is not an official guidance provider to describe themselves as a person offering guidance or to “behave, or otherwise hold himself out, in a manner which indicates…that he is doing so.”
The penalty could be up to 51 weeks in prison or a fine, or both.
In cases where the official guidance providers fail to comply with Treasury standards, they could be forced to pay redress to the customer.