Potential consumer harm associated with using dashboards

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Dashboards will benefit consumers by providing access to information about their pensions online, securely and all in one place. To ensure their security, the Pensions Dashboards Programme (PDP), working with our Steering Group, has identified areas where we can strengthen consumer protection, to better meet the government’s aims for dashboards. These areas of potential consumer harm highlight where we must ensure adequate protection measures are in place.

Some of the harms identified are:

  • data theft of personal data, including find data harvested by scam pension schemes or illegitimate pension provider servers receiving it from the pension finder service and theft of find data from digital architecture by cyber attack
  • misuse of personal identity data eg selling on to third parties, use for marketing
  • sharing of data with inappropriate third parties
  • failure to find pensions, with potential implications for retirement planning
  • finding the wrong pensions, which could be an unlawful disclosure
  • incorrect data returned to users
  • presentation of information or promotions on dashboards influencing consumers to make detrimental decisions
  • consumer misunderstanding of their information leading to detrimental decisions
  • confusion around complaints handling and paths to redress eg users may have complaints of inadequate service against the digital architecture, and/or they not know to whom their complaint should be addressed)
  • scams eg fake dashboards, which could harvest personal data, or scammers targeting consumers in possession of their pensions information

Consumer concerns

Consumers are aware of and share many of these areas of concern, as was recently demonstrated in qualitative research carried out by Ipsos MORI on behalf of PDP.

Security of personal information

Our research highlighted the need to operate within a safe environment, given the exchange of personal information for sensitive pensions data. Consumers were particularly concerned about the possibility of the information being mishandled or hacked.

The research introduced respondents to how the identity verification process would work within the ecosystem. However, some individuals felt anxious about sharing identification, such as a passport or driving licence information online, due to the perceived risk of identity theft. To some extent they felt this could be mitigated by government backing of the service.

We can already see the importance of emphasising the security of the service to potential dashboard users and the need to explain the security measures that we will design into the service, to ensure that it is robust and safe from attack.

Need for a no-strings service

The research also identified consumer wariness of being contacted by pension providers* for sales purposes following the use of a dashboard, with some respondents keen to have further reassurances around this. Others also had questions about whether the service would come with a cost to the consumer.

“I’d want reassurances that I would only be contacted by any providers that I actually have a pension with. I wouldn’t want an influx of just anyone I haven’t got an account with trying to sell me products.” Female, 36, Medium pensions engagement, DC pension holder

*When we refer to pension providers, this covers pension providers, schemes and trustees as defined in our glossary

Understanding the information

The final major concern identified by the research was around how well users will understand the information they see on dashboards. Individuals who are not confident about interpreting pensions data were particularly worried about whether they would feel overwhelmed with information.

We showed our respondents mock-ups of the type of information they’re likely to see on dashboards and they were pleased with the concise nature of the examples shown to them. PDP is carrying out ongoing user-testing to ensure we get this right.

We are aware that the presentation of estimated retirement income poses a particular challenge. This was highlighted again in responses to our Call for input on staging. Part of our ongoing research involves user testing different propositions of view data, to determine what users find most helpful and comprehensible.