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Industry needs ‘wake up call’ to rogue lead gen tactics

Industry needs ‘wake up call’ to rogue lead gen tactics
 

The financial services industry needs to “wake up” to the realities of rogue lead generation tactics which still rely heavily on cold calling under the guise of fake names.

The comments were made by Alain Desmier, founder of Contact State, a firm attempting to legitimise the lead generation industry. He said financial firms should look harder at how their leads are being generated.

While cold calling is not illegal in the UK, the problem, Desmier explained, is that the term ‘lead generator’ is often used to cover both criminal and perfectly legitimate marketing tactics.

The Financial Conduct Authority has moved to ban cold calling for funeral plans, and pension cold calls are illegal under the Information Commissioner’s Office, but the broader financial services sector is yet to receive a blanket-wide ban.

Desmier said he reckons an industry-wide ban on cold calling would be “a very good idea”.

“The problem with the term ‘lead generator’ is that it means a lot of different things,” said Desmier. “Cold callers will claim to be 'lead generators' to someone in order to validate their cold calling. I think you can send a good wake up call to firms that buy calls."

Ron Wheatcroft, a Kent-based technical manager at Swiss Re, received a cold call earlier this week from a company claiming to be ‘Estate Protect Group’.

The caller said they could set up a meeting with a solicitor to discuss how they can protect homes against the costs of care.

“A lot of people invited to do these things by definition are likely vulnerable,” said Wheatcroft, who said he was eventually hung up on by the caller.

“Individuals should really be talking to advisers on this topic, especially qualified, later-life advisers.”

‘Estate Protect Group’ did not appear on either Companies House or the FCA’s register. When FTAdviser called the same number that Wheatcroft had been called from, we reached a company calling itself ‘FiliTastica Marketing’. The firm’s website displays an address in the Philippines. 

FTAdviser approached the firm for comment. It replied via a contact form: "We generate leads for UK companies who offer financial services."

When re-dialled, FiliTastica's number suggests people can opt out of calls by pressing ‘1’. A GDPR section on its website also suggests it is operating within UK law.

According to ‘who-called.co.uk’, the number had been reported 96 times as of February 17. Originally, reports said the caller posed as a loft insulation provider, but has more recently appears to be calling to discuss later life financial plans and wills administration.

For Wheatcroft, this was the first call he had ever received regarding social care.

ruby.hinchliffe@ft.com