31-Mar-2014 09:23

The End of Unrequested ‘Nuisance’ Calls?

The government is planning to make it easier to fine firms that hound members of the public with nuisance calls.

Currently, they can be punished only if unsolicited calls cause "substantial damage" to householders.

Ministers will also consult on imposing heftier fines. Some consumer groups say the measures do not go far enough.

The Information Commissioner's Office received 120,310 complaints about "unsolicited marketing calls" from April-November 2013.

It is illegal for companies to call domestic numbers registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS).
The rules do not apply when people consent to their details being used for marketing purposes.

Firms which flout the TPS rules can currently be fined up to £500,000 by the Information Commissioner's Office.

Those which break media regulator Ofcom rules on silent and abandoned calls face fines of up to £2m.

Critics say the system is not working because rules on enforcement are skewed in favour of rogue firms.

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 they can call 0845 070 0707. 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.

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