Almost 500 complaints a day were made about nuisance calls and texts to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) last year, its annual report has revealed.
Reports about these spam communications had jumped by 12% in 2014/15 – compared with the previous year – and totalled more than 180,000.
But Which? research published last month found that just 2% of people who had received unwanted calls had reported them to the regulator, so millions more are still being received.
We also found that a quarter of people didn’t know where to complain when they received an unwanted call.
We’ve made it easier for you to tackle unwanted calls and texts – use our free tool to report a nuisance call to Ofcom and the ICO.
Enough nuisance call fines?
Despite a record number of complaints to the ICO, the watchdog’s report said that it had issued just five fines relating to marketing calls and texts – totalling £386,000 – along with eight enforcement notices and another 31 firms were being ‘monitored’.
Earlier this year, the law was changed to make it easier for the ICO to bare its teeth and fine companies breaching rules on nuisance calls and texts.
But, we want these fines to go further after finding that eight in 10 people support greater accountability over nuisance calls, including directors being fined if their companies break the rules.
Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd, said: ‘The volume of complaints to the ICO is growing and our research shows that this is only likely to be the tip of the iceberg.
‘This is why regulators, government and industry must work harder to cut off unwanted calls and texts that annoy millions of us every day.’
He added: ‘The ICO must use its new powers to full effect and hit hard any company breaking cold calling rules. We also want to see senior executives personally held to account if their company makes unlawful calls.’
The risk of cold calls
The ICO report said that most concerns it had received related to accident claims, green energy deals, payday loans and lifestyle surveys.
The report also found that live calls generated far more concerns than automated calls and spam texts.
As well as the annoyance, calls can result in vulnerable people being scammed.
In news earlier this week, Citizens Advice said that it saw thousands of cases of cold calling being used by scammers last year, with two in five of the scams starting with a cold call.