By Jonathan Davies
Information about people's pensions are being sold to fraudsters and cold callers for as little as 5p, according to a report by the Daily Mail.
The investigation found that third parties were able to find out information like a person's salary, the size of their investments and the size of their pension. It is feared that the information could be used to scam pensioners, who are able to access their pensions earl as of new rules coming into force in April.
The Daily Mail uncovered the scandal, saying undercover investigators were able to buy pension details, claiming they were from a cold-calling company.
The Information Commissioner's Office has launched an immediate investigation, describing the report as "very worrying" and warned businesses that they could face fines of up to £500,000 if found guilty.
Steve Eckersley, head of enforcement at the ICO, said the information being sold could hit pensions "at a critical point in their financial lives", with new rules coming into effect next week.
"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.
"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.