NO MORE HIDING: The government has clamped down on unwanted nuisance calls. New rules on marketing company cold-callers became active in May 2016.
The reworked laws on nuisance calling could now result in fines approaching £2.5 million. That is a strong deterrent for those bombarding people with unwanted calls and hiding behind withheld numbers.
The latest amendment to direct marketing legislation requires UK registered companies to display their phone numbers if they make unsolicited calls.
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport also confirmed that the new measures target companies abroad. Stricter regulations also affect businesses who have call centers based and operating overseas.
£2.5 Million Fines by Ofcom and ICO
The financial punishment for companies ignoring the reworked laws is substantial. The Office of Communications (Ofcom) is a broadcasting and telecommunications government-approved regulatory authority.
Ofcom now has the powers to fine nuisance callers up to £2 million. Breaching the rules could also result in an extra fine issued by the Information Commissioner’s Office. The ICO can add up to £500,000 on top.
It follows widespread support and public consultation with industry regulators and consumer groups. The change to existing legislation is also welcomed by the minister responsible for data protection.
Government Commitment (quote)
“Nuisance calls are ‘incredibly’ intrusive. They can cause significant harm to elderly and vulnerable members of society. Government is committed to tackling this problem. That is why we are making it easier for consumers to report companies by forcing them to display their phone numbers.”
Enforcement against Nuisance Callers
DCMS is the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. They instigated the amendment to the country’s existing legislation for nuisance calling. The changes aim to ensure the Information Commissioner’s Office have the authorisation they need.
That gives them power to investigate and pursue enforcement action against persistent nuisance phone callers who ‘deliberately’ break the regulations.
How to Report Nuisance Phone Calls
There are several important steps you can take. Before reporting nuisance phone callers hiding behind withheld numbers:
- Note and record the time of day you received the nuisance call
- Record the duration of the phone call
- Report these details to the ICO by calling 0303 123 1113
The government gave out a stern warning. If marketing companies continue to cold-call from hidden or withheld numbers – they are breaking the law.
The Information Commissioner’s Office is able to track down withheld numbers. They can track them even if the numbers are not displayed in the normal manner. You should also notify the ICO if you are receiving unwanted texts from marketing companies. Do so by forwarding the text you receive to 7726 (SPAM).
More Action to Stop Cold-callers
The government say the latest measures follow a clampdown in 2015. That resulted in almost one million pounds in fines by the ICO. Since April in the same year, customers no longer need to prove that unsolicited marketing calls were contributing to substantial distress for them to escalate the complaint.
Ending Spam Calls
Telephone Preference Service
The Telephone Preference Service is a free opt out facility. It empowers you to record your preference on the official register. That means you do not receive unsolicited sales or marketing calls.
It is illegal for a UK firm to make a telephone call to any individual if they have indicated they do not want sales calls. But, registering with the Telephone Preference Service is one of the best ways to ensure you stop receive marketing calls.
The service should become fully functional, and nuisance calls should stop, within one month of registration.
SilentCall-Gard is a silent call blocker and a free service. It helps stop or reduce the number of silent, abandoned, and recorded message calls you receive. In fact, silent calls can get generated by automated telecommunication equipment in call centers.
By registering with the SilentCall-Gard service, its database of UK companies clarifies that you do not wish to get called. One downside to the free service is that you must renew your details every 12 months.
Updated 2018: New Measures to End Nuisance Calls
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport have introduced new powers. Unless the claimant has chose to ‘opt-in’, new controls will ban certain types of cold calls. It targets nuisance calls that offer to settle payment protection insurance (PPI) or personal injury claims.
The new powers came into full force in September 2018. It means rogue companies who make unsolicited calls of this nature could get a fine up to £500,000 by the ICO.
Consumers will now get a choice whether to ‘opt-in’ to receive these types of phone calls. Thus, people will have the power to stop them if they are getting harassed by nuisance calls.
Reporting Nuisance Calls
New measures ban cold calls that offer to help claim compensation for mis-sold PPI if the claimant did not chose to ‘opt-in’ to receive them. So, the new laws reduce the need for reporting nuisance calls.
The previous method was to ‘opt-out’ of receiving such phone calls. You would have needed to register with the free Telephone Preference Service or withdraw consent while on the call.
But, the new powers forces callers to make all the necessary checks beforehand. They must now ensure that they have the consent of the recipient before they make the call.
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