Spectator.co.uk (blog) on Tue, 22 Mar 2016 00:30 GMT
Nuisance calls are up there with spam emails and junk mail as one of the scourges of modern life. Whether it's an automated voice urging you to claim compensation for payment protection insurance or a message from an accident claims company, cold calls …
Its been three years since the Ministry of Justice banned referral fees, which made it an offence for insurance companies and hospitals to sell the contact details of people involved in accidents. And there are new rules, introduced in 2015, that make it easier for the information commissioner to punish claims companies that breach data protection laws. These are nice, headline-grabbing measures but I see little evidence they have made any real difference.
AXA points the finger of blame at claims management firms. Amanda Blanc, chief executive of AXA Insurance, said: These companies have proven very successful at finding ways around legislation and some are operating at the edge of the law. Quite often they claim someone has been in an accident when they havent, which shows they are just making random calls to people. They are just fishing and that encourages fraudulent claims.
Where is the government on all this? In the slow lane, thats where. The National Audit Office found that companies that handle claims had taken between 3.8 billion and 5 billion from April 2011 to November 2015. Meanwhile, data from the industry watchdog, the Claims Management Regulator, recently found that such companies rake in more than 700 million a year but said that just three firms had faced financial penalties.
In an effort to block these calls, I signed up to the Telephone Preference Service (TPS). This is the official central opt out register on which you can record your preference not to receive unsolicited sales or marketing calls, and it doesnt cost anything. It is a legal requirement that all organisations do not make calls to numbers registered on the TPS unless they have your consent to do so.
If youre sick of these unsolicited calls then youre not alone. A new report from AXA Insurance has found that one-in-five people receives a nuisance phone call each day. As someone who works from home for some of the week, I know that my landline rings at least twice daily with these unwanted advances. As for my mobile, theres a minimum of one compensation-chasing claimant on any given day.
But theres a wider picture here. Yes, nuisance calls are incredibly annoying and it doesnt reflect well on the government that this pestilence continues unabated. What is even more teeth-grindingly irritating is the fact that thanks to ambulance-chasing lawyers, the cost of car insurance is being driven higher and higher.
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