The letter was written and submitted by Zurich’s Senior Public Affairs Manager, Laura McAlpine, whom added that including a storyline in Eastenders around a pension scam would be an immense tool around raising the awareness required.
McAlpine’s letter also referenced the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) recent Financial Lives survey research which found that 107,000 people ‘were potentially the subject of a scam’ last year following unsolicited approaches.
Zurich believe that as well as creating awareness the storyline could potentially develop to focus on the impact of the character’s mental health as they attempt to hide the consequences of falling victim to the scam from friends and family.’
It has been confirmed that Zurich could provide technical assistance with any scam story that beset the residents of Albert Square, along with its partners at TPAS.
‘Zurich, along with many other industry and consumer groups, including The Pensions Advisory Service (TPAS), has been concerned at the proliferation of customers seeking to transfer their pension funds to suspicious schemes, having been approached, via call, text or email, by so-called introducers offering free pension reviews,’ McApline said in the letter.
She added that including a storyline in EastEnders about a pension scam would be a ‘vital tool in raising awareness’ about scams and noted Zurich saw a significant fall in suspicious transfer requests following BBC Panorama’s programme on pension scams in July 2016.
Speaking with New Model Adviser® TPAS chief executive Michelle Cracknell backed Zurich’s idea.
She said even with the cold-calling ban in place, public awareness needs to be raised about the issue and a soap storyline could be a great way of doing this.
‘Scammers will always find a way of circumventing legislation so the cold-calling [ban] is not going to stop scams. So any innovative ideas to raise awareness about what to look out for I think is fantastic,’ she said.
In response to the letter the BBC said while it cannot accept storyline suggestions from individual companies or organisations, the idea has been passed to its research team.