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Campaigns | Nuisance calls and texts

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Calling Time on Nuisance Calls and Texts

Update

Win! Firms will be forced to display phone numbers

12th January

In a win for our Calling Time on Nuisance Calls campaign, marketing firms will be forced to display their phone numbers in the latest crackdown on nuisance calls. 

The Government has announced that it will be a legal requirement for marketing callers to provide a valid phone number that can be displayed when they call you. This will not only help you decide whether you want to answer the call or not, it will make it easier for you to report unsolicited calls to the regulators

Companies that breach these rules, including those with overseas call centres, will be hit by hefty fines. 

Victory for our campaign 

Our executive director Richard Lloyd said: 

‘It's a victory for consumers that firms are finally going to be forced to display their numbers when making marketing calls. This is another positive step in our campaign against nuisance calls as it should make it easier for people to report unwanted calls. Responsible businesses should have nothing to fear from telling people who is calling.’ 

Baroness Neville-Rolfe, the minister for data protection, said: 

‘Companies are already being financially punished when they blatantly flout the rules, and mandatory caller ID is just another step we are taking as part of a closely coordinated effort with regulators, industry and consumer groups to tackle the problem.’ 

Campaigning for mandatory caller ID 

We first called for mandatory caller ID when we launched our Calling Time on Nuisance Calls campaign in 2013. In the autumn of that year, the Select Committee on Culture Media and Sport and the All Party Group on Nuisance Calls both backed our calls for this. 

In March 2014, the Government said it preferred a voluntary approach. But when we wrote to six leading trade associations asking that they meet the voluntary Direct Marketing Association code of practice on CLI, we only got a positive response from one of them. 

Then at the end of 2014, in response to an amendment to the Consumer Rights Bill tabled by Baroness Hayter in the House of Lords, the Government promised to make it a legal requirement for companies to use Caller Line Identification (CLI). That promise is now coming to fruition. 

Thank you to all of our supporters for helping make this happen. The required change in the law is now being consulted on, and should come into force this spring. 

If you want to help us in our fight against nuisance calls, please sign our petition.

Update

One year on since the Nuisance Calls Task Force report

8th December

One year on since the first report by the Nuisance Calls and Texts Task Force, we've found some good progress but there’s still more to do.

The Nuisance Calls and Texts Task Force, set up in response to our Calling Time campaign, last year set out 15 recommendations. These recommendations called for action from businesses, regulators and the Government. 12 months later we've found some good progress, but there still needs to be further action.

Our executive director Richard Lloyd said:

‘Despite some good progress, we're still seeing high levels of unwanted calls and texts so more needs to be done to put an end to this everyday menace once and for all.’

What we found

Actions by businesses and industry bodies

- There has been some progress from big businesses. For example, SSE has made one of its directors accountable for nuisance calls and telecoms providers are working with Ofcom to identify nuisance call activities. The Charity Commission, the Institute of Fundraising and the Fundraising Standards Board are working with the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO).

- However, the majority of companies have not announced or committed to making nuisance calls a board level issue.

Actions for regulators

- The Competition and Markets Authority published a report on the commercial use of consumer data and has committed to play a role in any future regulation on this issue. The ICO is revising its guidance and has mystery shopped firms making unsolicited marketing calls and texts. It will also be holding workshops and consultations in the New Year looking at the wording of marketing consent.

- Ofcom is developing a process to register mobile numbers with the Telephone Preference Service by text and has opened a consultation to review its policy on persistent misuse of data under the Communications Act.

Actions for the Government

- The Government has made it easier for the ICO to fine companies who are found to be making cold calls, and we've seen a number of hefty fines over the past year.

- However, there's been no progress on giving the ICO more powers to hold board level executives to account if they're found flouting the rules. We are also still waiting on the Government to consult on legislation to introduce Caller Line Identification for marketing calls, making it simpler for people to see who is calling them.

- As yet, an awareness campaign aimed at businesses has not been launched and the Government also need to assess new policies, to ensure they do not lead to nuisance calls.

Richard Lloyd added:

‘The Government, regulators and business need to continue to work together to tackle this problem, with further action to cut nuisance calls off at source and make senior executives accountable if their company is caught flouting the rules.’

Sign our petition to help us convince the Government, regulators and businesses to step up action against nuisance calls.

News

Massive £850,000 fine slapped on nuisance calling company

A company that bombarded people with nearly six million nuisance calls has been fined £850,000.

The National Advice Clinic was hit with this record fine by the Claims Management Regulator (CMR) for making millions of calls about noise induced hearing loss.

Kevin Rousell, the head of CMR, said:

‘This company’s cold-calling campaign was deliberate and sustained, and a flagrant breach of our marketing requirements. They showed an alarming disregard for the misery their tactics can cause, particularly to elderly and vulnerable people.

‘The size of this penalty demonstrates how seriously we take this issue - nuisance calls will not be tolerated.’

Ignoring the TPS register

The National Advice Clinic, also known as the Industrial Hearing Clinic or the Central Compensation Office, made the calls between October 2014 and April 2015.

And many of these were made to people who were registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS), which resulted in almost 2,000 complaints being made to Ofcom about the company.

If you want to see more nuisance calling companies fined, report the nuisance calls and texts you get by using our free reporting tool.

Senior executives held to account

Our executive director Richard Lloyd said:

‘Millions of people are still being plagued with nuisance calls, so it’s good to see bigger fines for firms flouting the rules.

‘We now need to see much tougher penalties for senior executives of companies making unlawful calls including board directors being held personally accountable.’

If you agree with Richard and the more than 300,000 people who support our campaign, please sign our petition to call time on nuisance calls.

Success

SSE backs our Calling Time campaign

SSE has put its full backing behind our Calling Time on Nuisance Calls campaign.

It became the first energy company to end cold calling in 2013 and now it is encouraging other companies to do the same.

SSE says:

'We’re proud to make a difference, ensuring that contact with customers is on their terms and that any great deals we offer are relevant to what our customers want.

'So, in line with the ‘Which?’ campaign, we use Caller Line Identification (CLI) for all marketing calls; we let other companies in our data chain know whether you’ve opted out of all marketing calls or texts; and we make sure we contact with you within six months from the time you gave consent when your initial consent was given via a third party.

'We also make it easy for you to withdraw your consent; we screen all telephone numbers against the Telephone Preference Service (TPS), except where customers have specifically requested a call from us; and we carry out an review of the effectiveness of these policies every year.'

Our campaign calls for senior executives to be held responsible for nuisance calls from their company. On that point, SSE has named their sales director, Gary Pickering, as being responsible for their policy on cold calling. SSE adds:

If you’ve received a cold call from us, or anyone else, you can report it to the relevant industry bodies by using the simple complaints tool on the Which? website.'

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Nuisance calls debated in Parliament

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