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Warning - Employers warned to not fall for fake exemption certificate scam


Posted on 7 August 2017

The Pensions Regulator has warned that employers should be cautious of sophisticated scams which are currently targeting organisations and unsuspecting victims. The scams offer the sale of false certificates, which claim owners are exempt from workplace pension duties. These certificates are not genuine.

When purchasing one of these “Certificate of Auto Enrolment Exemption” for just £58, employers are informed they no longer have automatic enrolment duties. The Pensions Regulator categorically do not have any such document, nor do they accept it as legitimate exemption should a company’s pension scheme be investigated.

As with many scams, there are a few simple ways to spot one, such as if you’re receiving unsolicited cold calls or whether the firm or individual is registered with the Financial Conduct Authority. A little research into the businesses contact details, such as whether the business is contactable at their registered office or if the main contact number a mobile number may also help identify a scam. There are several ways to protect your clients from costly scams, and below we detail just a few:

Pension Scam Models

Make your clients aware of what a scam looks like, how they should deal with it and what options they have. If clients are aware of what a scam looks or sounds like, they are more likely to query the authenticity.

Due diligence

By conducting comprehensive Due Diligence, employers can combat the risk of scams targeting and affecting their clients. Thorough Due Diligence will highlight any potential liabilities, and can also operate as a legal defence should a client find themselves embroiled in a scam.

Use approved financial advisers

We also recommend you encourage your clients to seek advice from an approved financial adviser if they so wish. If a scammer claims to be a genuine financial or pension advisor, they can check their status with the Financial Conduct Authority. The organisation regulates both firms and individuals, and can therefore assist in deciphering whether they are genuine or not. (To ensure a finical advisor is FCA registered, simply type their details in the Financial Services Register).

Remember, if something sounds too good to be true, it often is. If you believe you have been offered the opportunity to purchase such a certificate, we urge that you not only decline the offer, but report the suspicious activity to the Pensions Regulator immediately.

If you are concerned about a scam, or have any other payroll or compliance related queries, please feel free to also get in touch with our certified payroll manager Chloe Hughes at

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