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committed to injured people
A not-for-profit organisation
committed to injured people

Blog: You’ve probably agreed to receive those annoying cold calls and texts

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You’ve probably agreed to receive those annoying cold calls and texts
Mike Benner | 07 May 2024

Brenda from Bristol went viral when, asked by the BBC for her reaction to Theresa May’s decision to call a snap general election in 2017, exclaimed ‘you’re joking – not another one!’. Well Brenda, that’s exactly how I feel every time I get a cold call. And I know I’m not alone.

A YouGov survey commissioned by APIL found that in the 12 months before June 2023, 38 per cent of UK adults received a cold call or spam text message about making a personal injury claim – that’s 20 million people. Of those, 86 per cent had a strong emotional response to those calls and texts, and were left feeling annoyed, angry, anxious, disgusted, or upset.

If you were to speak to ministers, they would tell you that cold calling for personal injury claims is already banned. That is, unless you have given your consent to receive these calls and texts from claims management companies.

But this is where it gets complicated for consumers, and why the current rules do not go far enough.

By putting the onus on someone to consent to being cold called, the Government has also put the onus on someone to decide when that consent should expire. And that is by no means simple. Before it introduced the rules in 2018, the Government admitted that there is no fixed time limit for when consent automatically expires. There is guidance from the Information Commissioner’s Office on time limit for consent, but this guidance, which extends to eight paragraphs, is littered with caveats such as ‘likely’, ‘might’, ‘unlikely’, ‘general rule of thumb’, and 'recommends’.

Does the Government really expect the public to search for this guidance, read it, and then conclude if their consent is no longer valid? That’s completely unrealistic. Our YouGov survey found that that less than half of people (42 per cent) had ever even heard of the Information Commissioner’s Office. I wouldn’t be surprised if many people didn’t know they had technically given their consent in the first place.

Last month, members of the House of Lords debated proposals which would have introduced an outright ban on personal injury cold calling by claims management companies (CMCs). The proposals, which were included in an amendment tabled to the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill by Labour peer Baroness Jones of Whitchurch, received cross-party support. But the Government opposed the amendment, and it wasn’t added to the Bill.

When the current rules on CMC cold calling were introduced in 2018, the Government told the press that ‘today we are one step closer to ending the menace of nuisance calls.’

But these nuisance calls remain. The Government should take the next step, and replace the current rules on consent with rules which introduce an outright ban on cold calls and spam texts for personal injury claims once and for all. We’ll be looking for the next opportunity to make that happen.

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About this blog

Mike Benner

Mike Benner is Chief Executive of APIL