New figures have revealed that consumers continue to be bombarded with unsolicited phone calls relating to accident claims.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has told the Gazette that it received 2,355 complaints in November relating to calls or texts asking if people had suffered an accident.
This was the third most common cause of complaints, behind boiler replacement and solar panels offers, and come at a time when the government has indicated a fresh drive to stop nuisance calls.
A consultation by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport closed last week – and the department is likely to seek to lower the threshold for penalising those found to be making the calls.
The law currently requires the ICO to prove a company caused ‘substantial damage or substantial distress’ by its conduct and the government’s preferred option is to remove this threshold.
Culture minister Ed Vaizey said: ‘Whilst direct marketing makes an important contribution to our economy, this must not be at the expense of the consumer’s rights. Those who choose not to receive such calls and texts should have their rights respected and those who break the law should be held to account.’
Consumer rights group Which? has led a taskforce, commissioned by the DCMS, to create a new set of tougher rules to prevent unwanted calls and texts.
Since starting a campaign on the subject last year, the group has gained more than 136,000 supporters. Surveys showed 83% of people had received a nuisance call on their landline in the previous month.
Research by Which? has previously found that the most common types of unsolicited calls on landlines were from companies selling financial products or services (such as PPI claims or insurance) (53%), with one-third reporting calls from accident claim companies.
The Ministry of Justice, which regulates claims management companies, has reported that unwanted calls and texts are a ‘serious concern’.
From July to September this year, the regulator audited 38 claims management companies engaged in direct marketing and warned six engaged in lead generation.