PPI Scandal: Cold-Calling 'Menace' Must Stop
Citizens Advice is demanding financial services firms are banned from 'cold calling' consumers in the wake of the payment protection insurance (PPI) scandal.
It says more than 30 million people have received unwanted messages about claiming for mis-sold PPI - with 67% of British adults receiving an unwanted telephone call, text, email or letter.
Citizens Advice said its research found 98% of those people did not feel they had given their permission to be contacted in this way, while 55% estimated that they were contacted more than 10 times in the past 12-months.
In nine out of ten cases the contact was made through telephone calls while almost 40% of people received automated messages to landlines.
Texts to mobile phones were other common ways in which consumers were contacted about PPI claims.
The research showed 56% of complaints about PPI claims management stemmed from cold calls and were not just confined to claims management companies.
Half of 30,000 complaints about cold calling, dealt with by the Citizens Advice consumer service between April 2012 and March 2013, related to professional and financial services, including PPI and offers of loans.
Other complaints about financial services ranged from people paying upfront fees for loans that never materialised, having their bank details passed on to other companies and firms failing to abide by cancellation rules.
Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: "Nuisance calls aren't just irritating, they're often a sign that the service on offer isn't very good or is actually a scam.
"Over a third of the complaints Citizens Advice handles about financial services stem from a cold call.
"There is a particular problem with claims management companies. People are finding that sometimes the promises made over an unexpected phone call aren't delivered.
"This means people who have been mis-sold PPI lose out twice: first at the hands of the bank and secondly from the claims firms because they don't get the full compensation they deserve.
"I want financial services firms to be banned from cold calling. That will help consumers identify good firms from the bad. Then if you get a cold call you'll know it is either a bogus firm or company not to be trusted."
The telecoms and media regulator Ofcom announced in May that it was to investigate nuisance calls.
The consumer group Which? has called for the Government to give regulators more powers to crack down on unscrupulous claims firms, while the moneysavingexpert website maintains consumers who use claims management firms to get back PPI cash on average lose about 30% of their money in costs.