Changes announced today mean that regulators will no longer have to prove 'substantial damage and distress' before prosecuting, but will be able to impose fines of up to £500,000 on firms which make repeated, unwanted nuisance calls. The new rules will come into force on 6 April.
Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd said, 'We welcome the Government making good on its promise to change the law so it’s easier to prosecute nuisance callers. These calls are an everyday menace blighting the lives of millions so we want the regulator to send a clear message by using their new powers to full effect without delay.
"It’s also good news that the Government has listened to our call and is looking into how senior executives can be held to account if their company makes nuisance calls.”
The Government asked Which? to chair a task force looking at the issues of consumer consent and the lead generation industry as part of its nuisance call Action Plan. The task force made 15 recommendations to tackle unwanted calls and texts.
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.