Whilst the Treasury, Bank of England, FSA and assorted financial experts argue amongst themselves as to the causes, cures and effects of the current credit crunch and debt crisis that is swamping the UK, they may care to consider the consequences of this to the people in the street.
There are finance companies and call centres that happily cold call thousands of people a day trying to foist unwanted, unnecessary and unwise financial products onto them. They use times of financial uncertainty to their advantage.
Whilst those of us who are financially literate can easily dismiss these calls/offers, as one would swat an annoying fly, there are many in the UK who are not financially literate and who are easy prey for these odious people.
Allow me to provide you with my own personal experience of the type of organisation that operates in this field.
Over the past four weeks or so I have been swamped with cold calls from one particular call centre operating in Scotland, called Contact4. They claim the following:
"Our team of Contact Service Consulting Specialists bring unparalleled experience and deliver the highest standards in both the Inbound - Outbound Industry.
Services provided by Contact4 are underpinned by 4 key principals: Passion, Decisiveness, High Standards and Respect."
The cold calls that I have received from this group claim to be "courtesy calls" on behalf of two finance companies, one of them being Smarter Loans (oddly enough the owner of Contact4, Pearse Flynn, is also Chairman of Smarter Loans).
I have on numerous occasions said quite directly, at the beginning of the call, "no thanks" and put the phone down.
Does this stop them?
The fact that I have been receiving the calls in the first place is rather troublesome:
1 I am ex directory
2 I have not in the last year applied for any credit, nor am I financially distressed, nor am I looking for a loan or extra credit.
3 I have, for a very long time, been registered with the telephone preference service. This means that cold callers are obliged not to call me. Quite why Contact4 have nee calling me is therefore a bit of a mystery.
Last week I formally complained in writing to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO). The ICO has legal powers to ensure that organisations comply with the requirements of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations.
I have heard nothing back from them, as yet.
However, still being plagued by Contact4 I blocked the number that they used (08445560022) using BT's "choose to refuse" service this week.
That worked until last night, when I received another call from them this time using 08445560020; it seems that their computer has been programmed to navigate around phone blocks.
Fortunately the BT service I use identified the "real" number behind the calls, as being 016131787000. I called this number, and got through to Contact4.
They say they got my number from maybe a data package that they bought.
The upshot being I have instructed them to remove my number immediately, and have also blocked their 0161 number.
Whilst I am well able to say no and to see through the fine print of financial products sold in this manner, there are many who can't and who are being pushed into taking on board products they don't/can't understand or indeed afford.
I would therefore strongly suggest to the Treasury, FSA, Bank of England and all other relevant regulatory authorities that if they want to bring some form of order to our over heated and over burdened credit market they need to address the issues on the front line, such as cold calling.
Those of you who have received calls from Contact4, and want to stop them them, here are their contact details:
Glasgow HQ Address
Glasgow Airport Business Park
Tel: +44 (0)141 305 2000
Fax: +44 (0)141 305 2001
Campbeltown Contact Centre
Kintyre Business Park
Tel: +44 (0)1631 787 000
Fax: +44 (0)1631 787 001
Dingle Contact Centre
Milltown Business Park
Tel: +353 (0)66 915 3102
Fax: +353 (0)66 915 3101
Gweedore Contact Centre
Gweedore Business Park
Tel: +353 (0)74 953 3300
Fax: +353 (0)74 953 3301
One Stop Shop
Tel: +353 86 58 6515
Here is their contact webpage Contact4
Business Development Manager
Glasgow Airport Business Park
Telephone: 01631 787000
Here are some of the numbers they use to call: