Which? is campaigning for tighter restraints on ‘nuisance’ calls and texts after a study shows seven in 10 UK adults received unsolicited marketing calls within the last three months.
The Which? survey of 1,000 people also found that 40% of UK adults have received unwanted texts. Companies selling financial products and services (such as PPI claims or insurance) were responsible for more than half (53%) of cold calls to land lines, and a third (33%) came from accident claims companies.
Joint task force
Which? is calling for regulators to set up a taskforce to clamp down on unwanted calls and texts, starting by looking at the Personal Injury and Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) claims industries. The taskforce should include the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), the Ministry of Justice, Ofcom and the Office of Fair Trading. Which? wants the joint taskforce to more proactively enforce existing law by policing the industry, punishing the rule breakers and publishing its recommendations
Richard Lloyd, Which? executive director, said: ‘Unwanted calls and texts are not just a nuisance, they can be intrusive and distressing. Many of us have been bombarded with spurious claims of PPI or injury compensation, and people are telling us they are totally fed up with this nuisance and want to see action.’
Police, punish, publish
To cut off nuisance calls and texts, Which? wants the joint taskforce to:
- Police – proactively and forensically scrutinise the activities of the Personal Injury and PPI industries over the next 12 weeks to expose the source of the problem;
- Punish – if it finds evidence of rule breaking regulators must take strong enforcement action including substantial fines and suspension of licences;
- Publish – make public its recommendations for any new powers regulators require to cut off nuisance calls, and to share all appropriate information from its investigations.
If you’ve experience of unwanted calls and texts share your views with Richard Lloyd on Which? Conversation.
Car Insurance claims
In a separate investigation of claims management companies, a quarter of those who had claimed on their car insurance policy were then approached by CMCs within three months of reporting the accident to their insurer, but more than half of these were contacted within just one week. 12% were bombarded with 10 or more phone calls, and 22% with 10 or more texts.
From April, insurers will be banned from receiving referral fees for passing customer details on to claims management companies (CMCs) but Which? is demanding tougher action. Richard Lloyd said:
‘Our research once again shows that the behaviour of unscrupulous claims management companies must be tackled to stop those exploiting consumers who could claim compensation for free themselves. We want to see tougher regulation from the government to clean up the CMC industry.’
Avoiding cold calling
To tackle nuisance calls and texts, Which? also wants insurers and other companies that hold personal information to be more upfront about how they intend to use this data. Consent needs to be clearly explained at each stage of the application and claim process. Companies must ensure they are following the rules by obtaining active opt-in consent for any third-party marketing.
To avoid unsolicited contact from third parties, never opt-in to third party marketing when you take out an insurance policy, and if you make a claim tell your insurer you don’t want to be contacted by a CMC or legal firm.