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Tackling your debts

Let it ring: 27 million choose to ignore calls to their mobile

Posted 16 May 2013

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Just 2 in 5 people answer every call that they receive to their mobile or landline telephone.

  • 27.4 million people don't answer every call to their mobile
  • 13.6 million people won't answer their mobile unless they recognise the number
  • 7.6 million people won't answer their mobile if it's a particular number they recognise

"My phone's there for my convenience, not other people's." If that's how you feel, you're in good company. We may take our mobiles with us everywhere we go, but just 2 out of 5 people usually answer every call.


Recent research* by Debt Advisory Centre indicates that while half of us tend to pick up the landline whenever it rings, just 42% of us usually answer our mobiles.


That's not the only way we're more picky when it comes to our mobile phones. A full 27% of us generally won't answer 'mystery' calls to our mobile, which works out to almost 14 million people** across the UK. We're more comfortable picking up the landline when an unidentified caller rings - just 16% of us (8 million)*** would ignore it.

What do you usually do when the phone rings?

Mobile Phone Landline
Answer it if I can, whoever's calling 42% 50%
Answer it if it's a number I recognise 27% 16%
Answer it unless it's a particular number I recognise 15% 11%
Answer it unless the number is withheld 8% 6%
Screen the call with voicemail / answerphone 2% 8%
I don't have a mobile / landline 4% 7%

It seems women are particularly wary of unidentified calls to their mobile. 31% of the women surveyed said they usually ignore numbers they don't recognise, compared with just 22% of men.


Women are also far more likely to screen calls to their landline: 9% of them said they did this, while just 6% of men said the same.


"The days of rushing to pick up the phone are long gone," commented Ian Williams of Debt Advisory Centre. "We're especially picky about answering our mobiles, but millions of people will let the landline ring too. The real question is - why?


"Time and again, people who come to us for help tell us how stressful it is dealing with calls from firms they owe money to. When you're struggling with debt, they can make a bad situation feel a lot worse - and someone with multiple debts can easily receive dozens of calls every week, if not every day.


"Our phones should be useful tools, not something we feel we need to avoid. If you're struggling with debts and trying to avoid difficult conversations, don't forget there are organisations that could deal with your lenders for you, and help you find a way to repay your debts at a rate you can actually afford."


* Opinium Research carried out 2,003 online interviews between 12th and 15th April 2013. Sample was representative of all UK adults, and figures have been extrapolated to fit ONS 2013 population projections of 50,371,000 UK adults


** 540 out of 2003 UK adults only answer the call if they recognise the number = 27%. 0.27 x total UK adult population (50,371,000) = 13.6m


*** 314 out of 2,003 UK adults only answer the landline call if they recognise the number = 16%. 0.16 x total UK adult population (50,371,000) = 8 m

by Kyri Levendi

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To find out more about managing your money and getting free debt advice, visit Money Advice Service, an independent service set up to help people manage their money.