The Government has launched a six week consultation to consider lowering the legal threshold before firms can be hit with fines of up to £500,000 for nuisance calls and texts.
The law currently requires the Information Commissioner's Office to prove a company caused 'substantial damage or substantial distress'. The Government wants to reduce this to causing 'annoyance, inconvenience or anxiety'.
Our executive director, Richard Lloyd, said:
'Changing the rules so it’s easier for regulators to punish the companies making nuisance calls is a big step forward and a victory for the 125,000 people who supported our Calling Time campaign.'
He added: 'Millions of us endure unwanted calls and texts every day so these new powers must be introduced as soon as possible. We look forward to the regulators using them to crack down hard on the unscrupulous firms that flout the rules.'
We'll be submitting evidence on behalf of our supporters to ensure this key proposal is turned into action. We have until 7 December to do so – so keep your signatures and stories coming in.
The Which? task force calls for evidence from organisations and individuals on how people consent to direct marketing.
The task force, which was set up as part of the Government’s Action Plan on nuisance calls, today calls on organisations and individuals to share their views to help in its inquiry.
The aim of the call for evidence is to understand the issues surrounding consent to direct marketing and how this impacts consumers. We also want to hear about any proposed solutions and how they could be applied.
We welcome evidence from businesses that do marketing, lead generation companies, consumer bodies and also consumers like you. You can find specific questions for each of these groups in this PDF document.
You may also find the task force’s terms of reference useful, as they set out the specific issues which are within the remit of this inquiry. The deadline for responses is 14 July 2014 and should be sent to Thomas.Oppe@Which.co.uk
Consumers can also share evidence on our community website. For example, how should organisations ask for your consent to marketing activity? Your views will be crucial to the task force’s inquiry.
The Government today announced a Nuisance Calls Action Plan thanks to your call for action.
The Action Plan is the first comprehensive and co-ordinated effort to tackle this menace. It includes the following new measures:
• Lowering the threshold for the ICO to take action against cold calling firms– calls will only have to cause annoyance rather than ‘substantial distress’.
• New regulations to let Ofcom and the ICO share information on rogue companies.
• The Ministry of Justice will consult on whether PPI cold callers should face fines of up to 20% of their annual turnover.
• Which? to lead a task force reviewing how people consent to receive marketing calls.
Culture secretary Maria Miller declared that 'nuisance calls must stop':
‘People need to feel safe and secure in their homes. The rules are clear – people have the right to choose not to receive unsolicited marketing calls. We will work to ensure their choice is respected.’
Our campaign found that people are often unaware that they’ve given permission to be contacted by a company for marketing purposes. The task force will bring together regulators, consumer and industry experts. Our executive director Richard Lloyd said:
‘Millions of consumers are bombarded by these calls, often because they weren't aware that their personal information might be used in third party marketing, so I'm delighted to be chairing a task force of experts to review how consumers give and withdraw their consent to be contacted.
‘We now look forward to regulators using their new powers to help stop this growing problem. It's also important that people continue to report complaints so regulators can crack down on companies who break the rules.’
This victory came about thanks to your support for our campaign – congratulations and we hope the scourge of nuisance calls is on its way out.