An investigation has been launched into claims the details of millions of people’s pensions are being sold to fraudsters and cold-calling firms.
Information about people’s salaries, investment values and pension size is being sold for as little as 5p without consent, the Daily Mail said.
It is feared it will be used to scam pensioners who can access their full pension pots under new rules in April.
The Information Commissioner’s Office called the reports “very worrying”.
It said it would be speaking to regulators and the police.
‘Huge spike’ in scams
The Daily Mail said its undercover reporters were able to buy pension details by claiming they were from a cold-calling company.
The ICO has previously said the pension changes coming into effect on 6 April could lead to more people being conned.
Steve Eckersley, head of enforcement at the ICO, said the information being sold could be used to target people “at a critical point in their financial lives” – and warned of a potentially “huge spike” in scam texts and calls.
He said the claims pointed to “a frequent disregard of laws that are in place specifically to protect consumers” and said the ICO would “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,” he said.
The ICO has the power to issue fines of up to £500,000 for the most serious breaches and can pursue criminal prosecutions around unlawfully obtaining or accessing personal data.
“We’ll be speaking to the Pensions Regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority and the police about the information the Daily Mail has shown us,” Mr Eckersley added.
Shadow work and pensions secretary Rachel Reeves called the revelations shocking, and urged ministers to “act quickly to protect savers from these serious threats to people’s hard earned retirement income”.
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