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3 May 2022

USS makes the pledge on pension scams

Universities Superannuation Scheme, the UK’s largest private pension scheme by assets, has officially made The Pensions Regulator’s (TPR) pledge to adopt industry best practice in preventing scams.

We self-certify that we follow the principles of the pledge to combat pension scams

The voluntary pledge encourages pension schemes to make a commitment to protecting members’ best interests when it comes to potential scams.

USS actively considered making the pledge at its inception in late 2020. But with changes to transfers legislation due in late 2021, it waited to see if the self-certification requirements changed – which they did.

Helen McEwan, USS’s Chief Pensions Officer, said: “I am delighted we’ve made this pledge. It is a really important issue and something that speaks to the very reason we are here: to protect our members’ pensions.

“We have always looked to protect members from scams in terms of our processes and procedures but making the pledge has challenged us to proactively demonstrate how we are doing that in line with best practice.

“The requirements are, quite rightly, complex and thorough – there are 21 separate attestations, for example – and I think members can take a lot of comfort from the fact we’ve been able to self-certify in a relatively short space of time.

“But so much of this is about remaining vigilant, and that’s why the pledge also focuses on increasing awareness amongst members. That’s something we’ve been doing a lot more of over the past year and will continue to focus on in future.”

Further information on the pledge can be found on the TPR website.

To make the pledge, schemes must commit to:

  • regularly warn members about pension scams.
  • encourage members asking for cash drawdown to get impartial guidance from Pension Wise.
  • get to know the warning signs of a scam and best practice for transfers by completing the scams module in the Trustee Toolkit and encourage all relevant staff or trustees to do so.
  • study and use the resources on the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) ScamSmart website, TPR’s scams information, and the Pension Scams Industry Group’s code.
  • consider becoming a member of the Pension Scams Industry Forum.
  • report concerns about a scam to the authorities and communicate this to the scheme member.