A landmark ruling by the Pensions Ombudsman could give new hope to pension scam victims says the former pensions minister, Sir Steve Webb.
The case in question relates to a police officer who transferred out his police pension into a new scheme but then became concerned that the money had been "lost or misappropriated". In the landmark ruling, the Ombudsman ruled that the police officer had been failed in two ways by Northumbria Police Authority. Firstly he had not been sent the official anti-scam "Scorpion" literature produced by The Pensions Regulator. Secondly, they had not carried out the proper checks on the pension scheme into which the money was transferred. According to the Ombudsman, this made the scheme guilty of maladministration and ordered it to reinstate the police officer's pension rights as far as it could.
"This is a very important ruling," said Webb. "While individuals obviously have a responsibility to take good care of their pensions and to take proper advice, this shows pension schemes also have important duties to protect members - not only should they flag the risk of scams, but they should also be undertaking thorough checks about where the money is going to be transferred to."
He added: "It might be the case that some past victims of scams who have complained to a pension scheme and been turned away could still receive redress if the ombudsman thinks their scheme trustees did not do a proper job in protecting them."
While the ruling only relates to a specific case, it shows that schemes have important responsibilities to their members, not only in alerting them to the risk of scams, but also in ensuring sufficient checks are made on receiving schemes.
"It is possible scam victims who have complained to schemes and been turned away might now find they get a chance of redress via a complaint to the Pensions Ombudsman," he added.