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Campaigns | Nuisance calls and texts

Calling time campaign media image  320925
Calling Time on Nuisance Calls and Texts

Mission statement

We're campaigning to call time on nuisance calls and texts. We're calling on the Government, Regulators, and Businesses to take action to protect people from unwanted callers. We also want you to have more control over how your personal data is used.

How to stop nuisance calls

Here are five handy tips to help reduce nuisance calls:

1. Register with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) for free

It’s against the law for companies to call people who are registered on the TPS.

2. Make sure you don’t consent to be contacted by third parties

Look out for tick boxes that request consent for your details to be passed onto third parties and make sure they're not ticked.

3. Go ex-directory

Some companies use phone books to find numbers to call - ask for your number to be excluded from directories.

4. Use call blocking technology

Call blockers can block unwanted numbers and show the number of the person calling.

5. Report a nuisance call or text using our tool

Nuisance calling companies can be fined up to £500,000, so it’s important to report the numbers that call you.

Read more advice on how to handle unwanted phone calls and don't forget to join over 200,000 others by signing our petition to stop nuisance calls and texts. 

Campaign wins

We convinced the Government to fine nuisance-calling bosses.

- The Government recently announced that it's taking forward our recommendation to make directors of companies who make nuisance calls personally liable for the fines issued to their company when they get caught.

- This closes a massive loophole in the law. It means that rogue bosses can't walk away from the fines their companies receive for making nuisance calls.

- But the fight isn't over. We're pushing ahead with our Nuisance Calls Task Force recommendations and getting mobile providers to step up to protect their customers.

We convinced the Government to launch a Nuisance Calls Action Plan, which includes:

- Lowering the threshold for the Information Commissioner’s Office (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.

- The Government asked us to lead a task force reviewing how people consent to receive marketing calls, chaired by our executive director Richard Lloyd.

Nuisance Calls Task Force recommendations

As part of the Government's Nuisance Calls Action Plan, Which? was asked to lead a task force to review how people consent to receive marketing calls and how direct marketing companies generate their leads. 

The task force, chaired by Which? executive director Richard Lloyd, met over five sessions to talk about how nuisance callers get hold of your phone number. The task force has now presented its report to the Government, which includes 15 recommendations to help tackle nuisance calls and texts.

The key recommendations from the task force include:

Three ways businesses can improve their direct marketing practices

1. Businesses to make compliance with the rules on consumer consent a board level matter, with senior executives held to account for the behaviour of their company.

2. Companies should allow consumers to easily revoke consent to being contacted and view Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) guidance on a six-month time limit for third party consent as the minimum standard.

3. Marketing companies should ensure any sales leads they buy have been fairly and legally obtained and that they have a record of consumer consent being given.

Action to be taken by the regulators

- The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) should take account of the task force findings in any work it undertakes on the commercial use of personal data. We recommend the CMA should work with other regulators to understand issues which cause consumer harm and identify action to remedy problems.

- The ICO should develop further practical solutions to causes of nuisance calls; and develop best practice for providing information to consumers, including wording for how people opt-in and opt-out of being contacted for marketing purposes.

Action to be taken by the Government

- The Government should lead a business awareness campaign to ensure companies know their responsibilities when it comes to making marketing calls and texts; and consider how future legislation could tackle nuisance marketing.

You can read the full Nuisance Calls Task Force report here. We’ve also published the minutes from each of the meetings in the Resources below.

Campaign asks

We want the government to call time on nuisance calls and texts by giving:

Ask 1: People power on personal data

We want the government to introduce:

An expiry date when a person consents to being contacted by 'selected third parties'.

An obligation on businesses to prove to the ICO that a person gave consent.

Ask 2: Regulators' power to police, punish and publish

We want increased regulatory powers to:

Extend the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) to include firms selling on personal data, not just those that conduct direct marketing.

Lower the threshold for the ICO under PECR to take enforcement action, so that it doesn't have to find evidence of harm but just prove a company has breached the rules.

Strengthen enforcement action against companies which call people registered with the TPS, and make it clear that people can't be called if they gave consent via a third party.

Ask 3: Industry power to protect people

We want the government to work with industry to:

Require businesses to send their Caller IDs so people can see their telephone number and can easily report any nuisance calls to regulators.

Provide spam filtering technology on mobiles to stop unwanted texts.

Develop a short-code that people can dial after receiving an unwanted call that sends information to the regulators and network operators.

Take action

Sign our petition to help call time on nuisance calls and texts

508,269
petition signatures
Help us reach 600,000

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