The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has fined a cold-calling company a record £400,000.
The ICO deemed Keurboom Communications to be in breach of privacy laws by making over 100 million nuisance calls. The unsolicited calls related to road-accident and insurance policy compensation.
Over 1,000 complaints were made about the now insolvent Bedfordshire-registered company. The ICO has said it is committed to recovering the fine despite Keurboom no longer operating.
This is a win for the Calling Time on Nuisance Calls campaign as we continue to see more and more cold-calling companies held to account for malpractice.
Responding to the record fine, Alex Neill, Which? Managing Director of Home Products and Services, said:
‘Nuisance calls are a menace, so it's right that the companies making them are held to account and hit with big fines.
‘The next Government should swiftly bring in new powers holding directors personally accountable for these unlawful calls.’
The news of this record fine comes just seven months after the ICO announced that directors of nuisance call companies face personal fines of up to £500,000. This was one of the asks of our Calling Time on Nuisance Calls campaign and was another subsequent win for Which?. However, such action is yet to be taken.
To date, more than 500,000 people have signed to support the Which? campaign calling time on nuisance calls and texts.
Find out what you can do to avoid nuisance calls by reading our online guide.
Our Calling Time On Nuisance Calls has claimed another landmark victory.
Under plans announced today by the Prime Minister, nuisance callers will soon be blocked from contacting the most vulnerable in society. Theresa May is promising to provide susceptible members of the public, including the elderly, with the technology to do exactly that.
As part of the project, which is expected to cost £500,000, hi-tech call-blocking systems will be installed in the homes of some of the most vulnerable people in the UK.
trueCall devices block a range of calls including all recorded messages, silent calls and calls from numbers the homeowner has pre-identified as unrecognised.
The NHS, National Trading Standards and local councils will collaborate to identify and prioritise the most-at-risk individuals to ensure those requiring protection receive it promptly.
In a similar trial scheme piloted by the National Trading Standards scams team in 2016, 93% of participants said they felt safer in their homes, including one person who was previously duped into paying a scam caller £150,000.
In a press release from Number 10, the Prime Minister said:
‘We want to create a fairer society by cracking down on unscrupulous practices which target the most vulnerable.
‘This new, targeted scheme is the latest step in the government’s fight against nuisance calls, protecting those who are most at risk, including those with dementia.
‘We have seen people tricked out of thousands of pounds by scam callers and this government is determined to clamp down on their activities once and for all.’
Responding to the government’s plans, Alex Neill, our Managing Director of Home Services, said:
’It's right that the government takes action to help vulnerable people. Nuisance calls are a modern menace, so it's right that the government takes action to help vulnerable people who continue to be bombarded with them.
‘Government now needs to bring in as soon as possible its promised action to hold directors personally accountable when their company makes these unlawful calls.’
While this is an incredible victory in our efforts to halt the onslaught of nuisance calls many suffer week in, week out, there is still lots of work to do if we are to see the kind of success that protects many other sections of society.
We’ll be making sure the government carries out the plan it has set out today and more besides. Join the campaign and sign the petition above if you haven’t already done so.
In a big win for our Calling Time on Nuisance Calls campaign, the government has announced that directors of companies behind nuisance calls will face personal fines of up to £500,000.
Previously, the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has had the power to fine companies found to be making nuisance calls, but often these companies avoid paying the fines by declaring bankruptcy and restarting their businesses under a new name.
Now, this latest announcement means that bosses will be held personally accountable with an additional £500,000 fine. This will stop fine dodging and close one of the loopholes which keeps nuisance callers in business.
Our Calling Time on Nuisance Calls campaign has been running for just over three and a half years now, and Director Level Accountability has been a headline ask since our Task Force recommendations were first published two years ago.
The campaign has gathered the backing of almost 500,000 supporters so far, and this latest news is a welcome win for both our supporters and for those who continue to be pestered by nuisance callers.
Which? Director of Home and Legal Services, Alex Neill, said:
‘It's good to see the Government has listened to consumers and will be introducing new rules to hold company directors to account.
‘This legislation will stop rogues dodging fines for bombarding consumers with nuisance calls and side-stepping the rules by closing one business and re-establishing a new one.’
But our work here is far from over. The fact remains that people are still pestered by this everyday menace.
We need to make sure that these new rules are introduced effectively and that the ICO uses its new powers to crackdown on company directors spamming us with nuisance calls and texts.
As new research reveals thousands of people receive an average 26 nuisance calls a month, we’re calling for further action by the Government to tackle this everyday modern menace.
We’ve been working with trueCall to analyse landline calls in the UK going back to January 2013.
We found that, on average, trueCall customers get 26 unwanted calls a month.
Our director of campaigns and policy Alex Neill said:
‘Millions of people are still being bombarded with nuisance calls and consumers are sick and tired of this daily intrusion into their lives. While there have been steps in the right direction, this research highlights that more must be done to tackle this menace.’
We also looked at calls made to people who own a specialist trueCall device designed for older, more vulnerable people.
Worryingly, these people got far more nuisance calls - an average of 38 calls a month. One in five received more than 60 calls a month… two calls every day!
It’s pretty clear from our figures that companies are deliberately targeting older, vulnerable people, often calling them again and again and again.
And what’s the impact of these calls? Here’s what Yvonne from Livingston says:
‘These calls are intimidating and very worrying for my 95-year-old mother and also my in-laws who are in their 80s. They get extremely upset by the almost constant harassment.’
Following our Calling Time on Nuisance Calls campaign, the Government and regulators have taken significant action to tackle unwanted calls and texts, including hitting nuisance callers with bigger fines and introducing mandatory caller display. However, this research demonstrates that there is still more to do.
Alex Neill added:
‘With the Government bringing forward legislation in the Queen’s Speech to tackle nuisance calls, they should introduce tougher penalties that hold senior executives personally accountable when their company makes unlawful calls and make sure the new rules give people more control of their data.’
To help us convince the Government to bring forward legislation to tackle nuisance calls, please sign our petition.
From 16 May, direct marking companies will no longer be able to hide or disguise their phone numbers.
All cold callers will be forced by law to display their phone numbers when making unsolicited calls.
Mandatory caller display is something we called for when we first launched our Calling Time on Nuisance Calls campaign. And now, with the backing of more than 360,000 supporters, that’s exactly what we have achieved together.
Baroness Neville Rolfe, minister responsible for data protection, said:
‘The Government is committed to tackling this problem, which is why we are making it easier for consumers to report companies by forcing them to display their phone numbers.
‘We’re sending a clear message to rogue direct marketing companies. Nuisance calls are unacceptable and we will not hesitate to take action against the companies behind them.’
This change to legislation will not only make it easier for you to refuse to answer a call from a number you don’t recognise, reporting unwanted calls will be simpler too. This should lead to the regulators fining more nuisance calling companies.
Our executive director Richard Lloyd said:
‘This is another important victory in the fight against nuisance calls. With marketing firms now being forced to display their numbers when making calls, it will make it much easier for people to report them and enforcement action to be taken when companies break the law.’
If you want to help us in our continued fight against nuisance calls, please sign our petition.
The ICO, whose powers to fine nuisance calling companies were strengthened thanks to our campaign, fined Prodial Ltd for making 46 million calls.
Our executive director, Richard Lloyd, said:
‘Millions of people are bombarded with nuisance calls, so it's good to see the ICO issuing ever larger fines to tackle this everyday menace.'
The Brighton-based firm had made millions of automated calls about PPI claims, leading to more than 1,000 complaints. Prodial Ltd was reportedly hiding its identity, making it even harder for complainants to report the calls.
Christopher Graham, Information Commissioner, said:
‘This was a company that knew it was breaking the law. A company director admitted that once the ICO became involved, the company shut down. That stopped the calls, but we want to send a clear message to other firms that this type of law-breaking will not pay. That is why we have handed out our highest ever fine.
‘No matter what companies do to try to avoid the law, we will find a way to act.’
Although the company has been placed into voluntary liquidation by one of its directors, the ICO is now working with the liquidators to recover the fine.
Richard Lloyd added:
‘We now need to see the Government introduce tougher penalties for senior executives of companies making unlawful calls including ensuring that board directors are held personally accountable.’
Read more about Prodial Ltd’s fine.
In a win for our Calling Time on Nuisance Calls campaign, BT is to launch a free service that will block nuisance calls before they get to you.
BT has announced a new service aimed at diverting millions of nuisance calls, which is set to launch later this year. BT has said that it will harness huge computer power to analyse and monitor calls to the company’s 10 million domestic customers and identify any patterns of callers.
Any rogue numbers will then be diverted to a junk voice box, which BT estimates will affect up to 25m unwanted calls a week.
BT customers will also be able to divert calls themselves to a ‘blacklist’.
BT’s chief exec John Petter said:
‘We are delighted to have made this major breakthrough. Now we are able to announce that we are working to identify and tackle huge numbers of [nuisance] calls in the network.’
Our executive director Richard Lloyd said:
‘People are fed up with being bombarded with unwanted calls so this is a step in the right direction for millions of BT customers.’
We now need to see more action taken by the industry and Government to help reduce the anxiety caused by unsolicited calls. You can help by joining more than 300,000 others by signing our petition to call time on nuisance calls.
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.
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.’
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.
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.’
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.’
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.
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.
Three quarters of Scots are discouraged from picking up their phone due to the scourge of nuisance calls.
Our latest survey found a shocking nine in ten people in Scotland have had nuisance calls to their landline in the last month.
We’ve been asking the UK Government to do more to tackle this problem, but given this is such an acute issue in Scotland too, we think the Scottish Government should also play its part.
‘With the vast majority of Scots getting nuisance calls, it is clear efforts must be re-doubled to tackle this modern menace. People are fed up with being bombarded with unwanted calls and texts that waste their time and invade their privacy.
‘The Scottish Government should lead the way by setting out how it plans to fight back against nuisance callers. Scottish businesses should make senior executives responsible if their firm makes unlawful calls.’
We’re calling on the Scottish Government to publish an action plan on how it will cut off nuisance calls. This plan should include:
- Cracking down on businesses breaking the rules and holding senior executives to account.
- Helping vulnerable people to cut the number of nuisance calls they receive.
- Ensuring that new Scottish Government policy doesn’t lead to more nuisance calls.
If you’d like to add your support to our calls on the Scottish Government, please sign our petition.
As part of its ongoing crackdown on nuisance calls, the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has announced today that it will be contacting over 1,000 companies involved in the compiling and trading of personal data to investigate their practices and ensure they are acting lawfully.
The regulator will be writing out to businesses this week requesting information on the data these firms hold and share; how this data is collected; and the details of companies that they have worked with in the past six months. The regulator will also be issuing three fines to businesses this week.
Commenting on today’s announcement, our executive director Richard Lloyd said:
‘Millions of people are still being plagued with nuisance calls, so it's good the ICO is continuing to crack down on firms that are 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.’
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