Network operator’s debt collection practices have been heavily criticised in a new report by charity Citizens Advice Bureau.
The ‘Falling Behind’ report looked at 26,600 mobile phone debts from 2015 which totalled nearly £11m.
The charity is now calling on providers allow customers to set monthly caps on their bulls to stop them getting into debt.
‘Falling behind’ found that the industry was particular poor at failing to stop individuals who were already in debt taking out new plans with different operators. There was an example of one person who visited Citizens Advice with more than £3,000 in debts across six different phone contracts.
Researchers also accuse the mobile phone providers of bad debt collection practices. The report rated them way behind other private sector companies like energy and banking.
Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said: ‘Mobile phone firms are lagging behind in debt collection standards. Our evidence shows companies too often don’t set affordable debt repayment plans, escalate debts too quickly and fail to co-operate with debt advisers. In some extreme cases companies set customers up to fail by offering them contracts they can’t afford to repay.
Other sectors that deal with essential services have improved how they handle debts in recent years so mobile phone firms have no excuse for dragging their heels. Giving customers the chance to set a cap on their bills will give consumers more power and help ensure they don’t build up unaffordable charges. The Government can also help by ensuring people can access free and independent money advice to avoid getting into debt in the first place.’