Nuisance Phone Calls: Which? Demands Action
Campaigners have demanded tougher regulation to clamp down on companies who plague people with unwanted phone calls and nuisance text messages.
Consumer group Which? found seven out of 10 consumers had been cold-called in the last three months, while two-fifths had received unsolicited texts.
The majority of calls and messages came from claims management companies (CMCs) offering to take up payment protection insurance (PPI) and personal injury cases.
Which? urged regulators including Ofcom and the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) to set up a joint taskforce to pull the plug on "intrusive and distressing" calls and texts.
It said offenders should receive fines and be put out of business.
"Unwanted calls or texts are not just a nuisance, they can be intrusive and distressing," executive director Richard Lloyd said.
"Many of us have been bombarded with spurious claims of PPI or injury compensation. People are telling us they are totally fed up with this nuisance and want to see action.
"Our research once again shows the behaviour of unscrupulous claims management companies must be tackled to stop them exploiting consumers who could claim compensation for free themselves.
"We want to see tougher regulation from the Government to clean up the CMC industry."
Which? said that a quarter of its members who made a claim on their car insurance were contacted by a CMC within three months.
Many of them were then bombarded by repeated messages. More than a fifth said they were sent at least 10 texts and one in eight received 10 or more phone calls.
The Transport Committee is currently investigating the extent to which bogus and exaggerated whiplash claims push up the cost of car insurance.
False claims are estimated to add around £90 to the cost of every premium.
From next month, insurers will be banned from receiving money in exchange for the details of customers who make personal injury claims.
However, Which? said the rules will not cover non-injury claims such as car repairs.
It urged people to register their details with the Telephone Preference Service and to avoid opting into third party marketing when taking out an insurance policy.
It also said consumers should not respond to spam texts, even to text "stop", as this alerts the sender to the phone number being active and in use.