Nuisance calls companies to face more finesGovernment to make it easier to punish problem firms

27 October 2014

Man receiving a nuisance call

It should be easier to issue large fines to companies who bombard people with nuisance calls, a new government consultation has proposed. 

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport wants to make it easier to punish companies that act irresponsibly and disrupt people's lives. 

Changes proposed to the law will mean companies will only need to be causing ‘annoyance, inconvenience or anxiety’ in order to be fined up to £500,000. 

Currently, the law requires the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) to prove a company caused ‘substantial damage or substantial distress’ by their conduct.

By lowering the legal threshold, it is hoped that more companies will be issued with hefty fines if they bombard people with unwanted calls. 

Calling Time on Nuisance Calls

Which? has been actively campaigning on nuisance calls since 2013 with 125,000 people having signed up to our Calling Time campaign.

Which? executive director and chair of the government’s taskforce on marketing consent, 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.’

If you’ve been bombarded by unwanted calls, read our guide to find out how to stop nuisance phone calls.

Nuisance calls taskforce

Earlier this year, the government published its Action Plan on nuisance calls.

As part of this, Which? was asked to convene a taskforce to look at the issue of how people give and withdraw consent to being contacted for marketing purposes.

The taskforce is chaired by Richard Lloyd and membership includes the Ministry of Justice, the ICO and Ofcom.

People are often targeted with nuisance calls because at some point they have ticked a box giving consent to companies to contact them and pass their personal data onto third party companies.

We want to put consumers back in control of their own data.

As part of this, the taskforce has been looking at a number of different factors including clarity of information provided by marketing companies, methods of obtaining consent and how long consent should last once it has been given.

Preventing nuisance calls

Previous Which? research on nuisance calls found that 83% of people had received an unsolicited call on their landline within the previous month.

We also found that three in 10 people who received calls on their landline or mobile said they felt intimidated.

If you have been targeted by nuisance calls, our nuisance calls guide shows you how to report them and also gives other tips including information on call blocking devices.

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