Government must get a grip on nuisance calls
Consumer rights group Which? has blasted the regulator responsible for policing nuisance marketing calls for "failing the public".
The Telephone Preference Service (TPS) is routinely failing to cut off nuisance calls, the organisation said as it published research showing that consumers registered with the TPS still receive, on average, double the number of unsolicited calls than those who haven't signed up.
Almost six in 10 (57%) people registered with the TPS told Which? they are not satisfied with the service.
The organisation called on the government to "step in and get a grip" on the problem by awarding the TPS more power to "properly police and punish the industry, to send a clear message that unlawful practices won't be tolerated."
Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: "Consumers are sick and tired of being bombarded with nuisance calls and texts. The current system is failing the public and given the scale of this problem, it's time for the government to step in. We urgently need to see a new approach, new laws and new technology to tackle this scourge on people's lives. People must be put back in control of their personal data."
Which? said the government should strengthen the law on consent and the use of personal data, give regulators more powers to enforce the law, and work with industry to provide technical fixes to filter out unwanted calls and texts.
Consumers are often targeted with nuisance calls because at some point they "ticked the box" giving consent to companies not only to contact them but also to pass on their personal data to third parties. "The government must tackle this trading of data and put consumers back in control," Which? added.
Around eight in ten (85%) people received an unsolicited call in the last month, Which? said, with one in 10 (8%) receiving 50 unwanted calls or more. Six in 10 (62%) people received calls about Payment Protection Insurance and half (48%) from accident claim companies.
In mid-May 2013, Moneywise reported that consumers receive on average two nuisance calls a week and payment protection insurance claims firms are responsible for most of them.
Research by communications watchdog Ofcom showed calls about PPI claims made up 22% of all nuisance calls, but this rose to 51% where participants were able to identify the product or service being sold.
It is calling on people to pledge their support online for its Calling Time On Nuisance Calls and Texts campaign.
Payment protection insurance is designed to cover you should you fall ill, have an accident or lose your job and can’t make repayments on loans or credit cards. However, research by consumer watchdogs found the cover to be overpriced, filled with exclusions (policies exclude self-employment, contract employees and pre-existing medical conditions) and were often mis-sold because the exclusions were never fully explained. In May 2011, the High Court ruled banks had knowingly mis-sold PPI and ordered them to compensate around two million consumers.