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7 in 10 receive nuisance calls, texts and emails in last 12 months

5 Medi 2013

Citizens Advice says no let up in nuisance calls

Citizens Advice has called on MPs to ‘put a freeze on cold calls’ as new figures reveals 72% of people say that they’ve received a unrequested call, text or email in the last 12 months.

According to the survey of 5,682 British adults aged 18 and over the most common unexpected sales calls, texts and emails made to households in Britain are:

  • Personal injury and accident claims (42%)
  • Gas and electricity  suppliers (40%)
  • Double glazing firms (29%)
  • Firms selling debt relief services (23%)
  • Offers for extended warranty on products (14%)
  • Firms selling pension unlocking services (10%).

Figures released last week found over 30 million people also reported being contacted about reclaiming mis-sold PPI. More than half (55%) had been contacted over ten times in the last 12 months.

The figures come as Tuesday’s Culture, Media and Sport Select committee looked at the issue of nuisance calls.  

These new figures reveal 30% had been contacted out of the blue by firms offering financial services including pension unlocking and paid-for debt management.

Citizens Advice wants to see financial services banned from cold calling. The charity’s evidence reveals that not only are the calls a nuisance, but can lead to serious consumer harm.

A detailed analysis, released in May this year, found 35% of complaints to Citizens Advice about financial services were from a cold call.  People paid upfront fees for loans that never materialised, had their bank details passed onto other companies and firms failed to abide by cancellation rules.

Last month energy firms, SSE and Eon, have pledged to put an end to cold calling.

Citizens Advice Chief Executive Gillian Guy said:

“For too long people have been hounded in their homes by firms pestering for business. In most cases the person has no idea how they got hold of their contact details and certainly didn’t expect to receive the calls or texts.

“Nuisance calls are absolutely infuriating, yet the problems caused go beyond irritation.  We see people who have lost out because they have taken up a service off the back of a cold call.  Often they’re put under pressure to buy the product or service only to find it doesn’t deliver on what was promised.

“I want there to be a freeze on cold calls to protect consumers from predatory firms who are out to make a quick buck at their expense and urge MPs to introduce strict rules to tackle cold callers.”

Citizens Advice written evidence to the Select Committee highlighted the need for companies who use telesales to prove they have direct permission to contact a person, greater enforcement powers to tackle companies who persistently cold call and improved methods to track exactly who is making a call.

Figures, released by Citizens Advice on 29 August found that, of those who had been contacted about reclaiming mis-sold PPI, 1 in 4 were contacted during a family meal and 1 in 7 while they were at work.

Half of 30,000 complaints about cold calling, dealt with by the Citizens Advice consumer service between April 2012 and March 2013, related to professional and financial services including PPI and offers of loans.

You don’t have to use a claims management company to make a claim for mis-sold products like PPI, credit card protection and packaged bank accounts. You can make a claim yourself by going direct to your bank. Citizens Advice can help you make a claim.  There is information online, including template letters, at or you can get advice from your local Citizens Advice Bureau.  

Notes to editors

  1. The research was conducted on Capibus, Ipsos MORI’s face to face omnibus, between 21st June and 15th July 2013. Questions were asked of 5,682 adults aged 18+ across Great Britain. The survey data were weighted by age, gender, region, social grade, household tenure, working status and ethnicity to be nationally representative of adults 18+ in Great Britain. The estimate of approximately 32 million people has been derived by applying the survey result to the 2010 ONS mid-year population estimate of 47.8 million adults aged 18+ in Great Britain. For any percentage given, we can estimate ‘confidence intervals’ within which the true values are likely to fall. Using an estimated confidence interval of +/- 1 percentage point, we can be 95% confident that the true value lies between 29.6and 30.6 million British adults.  Please note though that these tolerances assume a random sample with no design effect, and do not strictly apply to quota surveys (although good quality quota surveys are often assumed to behave in the same way). In reality there is also likely to be a design effect to these findings, which means that the confidence intervals are likely to be wider.
  2. Citizens Advice analysed 1,845 calls made to the consumer service between 1 January to 28 February 2013 about the following financial services.

Breakdown of types of services analysedNumber of cases
Bill of sale lender2
Claims management and similar services561
Credit broker710
Debt collection scam27
Debt collection to small business4
Debt management129
Mortgage broker3
Not known16
Payday lender281
Prepaid card2
Grand Total1845

Almost a third of cases were about claims management companies or similar.  The following table provides a breakdown of these service

Types of claims management or other similar legal servicesNumber of cases
Bank and credit card charges21
Business rates rebate3
Council tax rebanding20
Endowment mis selling3
Fraud on bank account1
Mortgage mis-selling14
Not known23
Pension unlocking67
Personal injury18
Unenforceable consumer credit agreements7
Utilities mis-selling2
Grand Total563
  1. The Citizens Advice service comprises a network of local bureaux, all of which are independent charities, the Citizens Advice consumer service and national charity Citizens Advice. Together we help people resolve their money, legal and other problems by providing information and advice and by influencing policymakers. For more see the Citizens Advice website.
  2. The advice provided by the Citizens Advice service is free, independent, confidential, and impartial, and available to everyone regardless of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age or nationality.
  3. To find your local bureau in England and Wales, visit You can also get advice online at
  4. You can get consumer advice from the Citizens Advice consumer service on 08454 04 05 06 or 08454 04 05 05 for Welsh language speakers
  5. Citizens Advice Bureaux in England and Wales advised 2.1 million clients on 6.6 million problems from April 2012 to March 2013. For full 2012/2013 service statistics see our quarterly publication Advice trends
  6. Citizens Advice service staff are supported by more than 22,000 trained volunteers, working at over 3,000 service outlets across England and Wales.