General Insurance Article - 2.2 bn insurance related nuisance calls and texts in 2017

Consumers were bombarded with 2.2 billion nuisance calls and texts relating to an injury-related claim, pension, PPI or other insurance related matters in 2017, research using Ofcom data and commissioned by Aviva shows. This translates to more than 6 million nuisance calls and texts made every day, or 4,200 calls and texts made every minute.

 Some 895m nuisance calls were made chasing an injury claim for an accident that may or may not have occurred, or other insurance-related matter such as pursuing a holiday sickness claim. Nuisance calls chasing an accident claim were the most common concern reported by consumers to the Information Commissioners Office (ICO).
 Those behind cold calling – regardless of the purpose (accident, pension or PPI) – have relentlessly targeted those aged over 65, who received more nuisance calls than any other age group. Nearly one in three (30%) nuisance calls and texts targeted someone 65 or older.
 MPs are set to debate the Financial Guidance and Claims Bill which proposes the creation of a single financial guidance body. According to the current draft of this new legislation, the guidance body will consider the impact of cold-calling on consumers and can recommend a ban on cold calls to the Secretary of State, who will have the power to introduce such a ban.
 Aviva is calling for a ban on these cold calls relating to a pension, PPI, insurance claim or similar issue where there is no established relationship with the consumer. Consumers overwhelmingly agree: in a survey of more than 2,000 adults on behalf of Aviva, 85% of consumers said they support a ban on all nuisance calls.
 Rob Townend, UK Claims Director at Aviva, said, “Enough is enough. Nuisance calls are a national epidemic which must be stopped. Whether it is a call chasing an injury you may or may not have sustained in an accident, or a pension scammer attempting to con unsuspecting individuals out of their hard-earned retirement savings, there is no place in our society for them.
 “Aviva is urging the Government to put a swift end to these cold calls. The Financial Guidance and Claims Bill currently before Parliament is a terrific opportunity to ban unsolicited calls once and for all. If the Government is serious about protecting all members of our society, including the most vulnerable, then it should take decisive action and ban them.”
 “Were you injured in an accident?”
 Claims management companies (CMCs) frequently use nuisance calls to target consumers who may have been injured in a car accident. CMCs are attracted to such claims due to the large fees they receive in exchange for passing the claimant to an organisation that can help them pursue their claim.
 This financial incentive is driving the aggressive calling and texting of consumers, regardless of whether they had an accident or were injured. Aviva is calling on the FCA, which will be the new claims management regulator, to introduce a cap on the fees CMCs can charge for handling injury claims.
 Preying on Pensioners
 In April 2015, the government introduced new pension freedoms, allowing anyone aged 55 and over with a defined contribution pension to take all or part of their retirement savings as a lump sum. Since then, pensions-related nuisance calls are estimated to have increased by around 2.7million, as pension scammers exploit the new rules to con hard-working consumers out of their retirement savings.
 Government estimates indicate that fraudsters have conned more than £43m from pension pots since 2014****. Aviva is working hard to protect all of its pension customers and their retirement savings. All pension transfer requests are carefully vetted by Aviva, and those which cause concern are investigated further.
 Aviva is also working to make its customers aware of the potential risks that they face from scammers. Common tactics employed by fraudsters include:
 • Aggressive sales tactics, including cold calls
 • The promise of ‘guaranteed’ high returns
 • Telling the consumer that their existing arrangement is not performing well
 • Overseas investments that are not as advertised and offer no recourse once the consumer invests
 Consumer anger
 For those who receive a nuisance call or text, the question is frequently, ‘how did they get my telephone number or personal data?’
 The value of such data – for example, information relating to an accident which may have resulted in an injury - has created a black market where illegally obtained personal data is bought and sold. There is very strong support for tougher penalties for those caught buying and selling illegally obtained consumer data, with 87% in favour of tougher penalties.
 While 57% of consumers said nuisance calls were “the most annoying thing about owning a phone” they were also said to be “intimidating” (18%) and made them feel “anxious” (13%).
 Taking action
 Aviva recommends that anyone concerned about the intrusion and threat posed by cold callers, regardless of age, registers with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) – a free service which allows consumers to opt out of unsolicited sales and marketing calls.
 Aviva’s consumer research found that people are more likely to be registered with the TPS the older they are: only 16% of 16 – 24 year olds are registered with the TPS, while 53% of those over-55 have signed up to the service.
 • 57% of Brits say nuisance calls and texts are the most annoying thing about having a phone
 • Over 65s targeted with approximately 30% of ALL nuisance calls and texts
 • Nearly 900m calls and texts chasing a personal injury claim or insurance issue
 • 2.7m more pensions-related nuisance calls since pension freedoms
 • As MPs set to debate the Financial Guidance and Claims Bill, Aviva calls for a ban on these unsolicited calls; 85% of consumers agree

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