Nuisance calls must be stopped says ICO

By Dyenamic Solitions - Last updated: Wednesday, July 17, 2013 - Save & Share - Leave a Comment

The data protection regulator has called for more powers to stop companies making nuisance calls, after fining a firm that broke the rules.Nuisance calls must be stopped says ICOTameside Energy Services, based in Denton, Manchester was fined £45,000 for making unwanted marketing calls.

The Information Commissioner received more than 1,000 complaints from people who had signed up to the Telephone Preference Service but still got calls.

The Commissioner now wants to be able to act earlier against such businesses- it needs to display a risk of, or actual, “substantial damage or distress” as a result of marketing calls. It wants to be able to act when it sees a firm regularly breaching the rules.

In the latest case, Tameside Energy Services made calls to people about energy efficiency home improvements through the Green Deal scheme.

The Telephone Preference Service runs a register that allows people to opt out of any unsolicited sales or marketing calls.

Individuals can register free of charge by visiting the website or calling 0845 070 0707, however it takes 28 days for registration to become effective.

Mobile phone numbers can also be registered, although this will not prevent unsolicited text messages.

It is a legal requirement that all organisations – including charities, voluntary organisations and political parties – do not make such calls to numbers registered on the TPS unless they have the individual’s consent to do so.

However, it failed to check whether those people being called were signed up to the Telephone Preference Service (TPS). Those who were signed up should not have received a call.

In addition, those who received a call and said they did not want such a call again were not removed from the firm’s call list.

The breaches led to more than 1,000 complaints between May 2011 and January 2013.

“This is not the first and will not be the last monetary penalty issued by the ICO for unwanted marketing calls,” said Simon Entwisle, director of operations at the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

“These companies need to listen – bombarding the public with cold calls will not be tolerated. Were it not for the company’s poor financial position, this monetary penalty would have been £90,000.  We would like to see the law changed to make it simpler for us to punish companies responsible for repeated and continuous breaches of the law.”

Nineteen million phone numbers are registered to the TPS – about three-quarters of all landlines in the UK.

Although the ICO can issue fines of up to £500,000 for breaches of regulations on unwanted calls, texts and emails- although many are calling for an overhaul of the TPS service as many companies- particularly from overseas do not bother to check the TPS register and bombard us regardless.

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