The Pensions Regulator has revealed that some small businesses have been conned into paying for an ‘exemption certificate’ which promises to let them off carrying out their auto-enrolment pension scheme obligations.
Growing businesses across the UK are now obliged to offer a contributory pension scheme to staff members. However, online fraudsters are seeking to muddy the waters by fooling unassuming companies by selling documents known as ‘certificates of auto-enrolment exemption’ to entrepreneurs and business owners, entitling them to wrongly avoid having to provide employee pensions.
The Pensions Regulator confirmed it was “investigating at least one company offering what is describes as ‘certificates of auto enrolment exemption’ to employers”.
It added: “There is no evidence that employers are buying the fake documents with the intention of committing any offences.
“However, employers who have failed to comply with their duties because they believe the documents give them an exemption leave themselves open to being fined and may be committing an offence.”
A spokesman for the Pensions Regulator confirmed there were dozens of cases of businesses falling for the scam, with the potential for more “victims who have not come forward yet”.
Darren Ryder, director of automatic enrolment, the Pensions Regulator, said: “Most independent advisers offer legitimate services that assist employers with their workplace pension duties.
“Nevertheless, employers need to take care when they are seeking help or advice about what they need to do about automatic enrolment.”
During the next half-a-year, some 500,000 employers of the smallest UK firms in operation will be required to comply with the auto-enrolment pension scheme rules or face fines. To date, some 17,000 fines have been dished out by the regulator to those who have evaded their auto-enrolment deadlines.
If you’ve been a victim of these fraudulent exemption certificates or you’re concerned about your impending auto-enrolment deadline, your local TaxAssist Accountant can help. To discuss your pension scheme situation with your nearest TaxAssist expert, simply call us today on 0800 0523 555 or drop us a line using our online enquiry form.