Which? is calling for directors of companies that bombard people with nuisance calls to be held personally liable and hit with huge fines, as new research shows the majority of people are still being plagued by unsolicited calls.
While the government has announced its commitment to addressing the problem of nuisance calls, it is yet to grant the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) the power to fine those guilty of making illegal calls and texts despite saying this power would be in place from late 2017.
As the consultation on taking action against directors that breach regulations closes today, Which? is calling on the UK Government to seize the opportunity to finally make the bosses of firms responsible personally accountable for nuisance calls.
Sick of being disrupted? Read our 10 tips to stop cold calls.
Nuisance calls continue to aggravate
When we surveyed more than 2,000 people earlier this month, seven in ten told us they’d received at least one unsolicited call to their landline or mobile in the past month. One in seventeen told us they’d actually been scammed by a cold caller.
Nuisance calls have a significant impact on everyday life, with more than eight in ten viewing cold calls as an intrusive interruption. More than seven in ten of the people we surveyed said that receiving cold calls discouraged them from picking up the phone when it rings, meaning they risk missing out on important calls from friends and family.
Two in five also reported feeling distressed or intimidated by cold calls.
Which? research conducted in 2016 found that four out of every ten calls people received weren’t from their family or friends – they were unsolicited calls from telemarketers. The situation is even worse for older, vulnerable people. Find out more about that research in our report on the extent of the nuisance calls epidemic.
Why directors need to be held accountable
Since Which? campaigned for tighter restraints on nuisance calls and texts by regulators, the Government has taken several measures to tackle the issue – it’s now mandatory for marketing firms to display their phone number and, in 2017, the Prime Minister announced a £500,000 scheme to install hi-tech call-blocking systems in the homes of some of the most vulnerable people in the UK.
In October 2016, the UK Government announced that from the spring of 2017, directors of firms responsible for nuisance calls could each be fined up to £500,000 by ICO if they were found to be in breach of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations.
However, the Government has so far failed to introduce these measures. Under the current rules, enforcement action can only be taken against the company itself, rather than any company directors. Many organisations that are penalised try to wriggle out of paying financial penalties by declaring bankruptcy – only to sidestep the law and open up again under a different name.
Which? asks the Government to deliver on its promise
Which? is now calling for the UK Government to seize the opportunity to ensure that company directors are made personally liable for nuisance calls and texts.
Alex Neill, Which? Managing Director of Home Products and Services, said:
‘It’s time to stem the tide of this daily torment and properly hold to account company directors who are responsible for flouting the law. We must stop them from bombarding households with nuisance calls.
‘The Government must seize this opportunity and act swiftly to deliver on its promise to stamp out dodgy practices and make sure that those responsible for making nuisance calls can no longer evade justice and skip fines.’
Cordless phones to block nuisance calls
A Best Buy cordless phone can be one of the most effective ways to block nuisance calls. We put each model through a series of tests to see how it deals with international, mobile, withheld and unavailable numbers.