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Rights Group: Government Must Act on Nuisance Calls

A leading consumer rights group is urging the government to come good on its promise to clamp down on the growing epidemic of nuisance calls.

Which? claimed that a massive 73% of consumers it polled earlier in August had received at least one unsolicited call over the previous month, with nearly 6% actually being scammed by a cold caller.

What’s more, over 80% view it as an “intrusive interruption” while over 70% claimed the calls discourage them from picking the phone up. Two-fifths said they feel distressed by cold calls.

The UK’s Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) mandate strict rules governing the use of marketing emails, calls, texts and faxes.

Privacy regulator the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has slapped huge fines on companies like Keurboom Communications (£400K), Miss-Sold Products UK (£350K), Your Money Rights (£350K) and more over the past year.

However, too often the directors behind these companies escape punishment by declaring bankruptcy, only to set up new businesses.

According to Which? the government agreed two years ago that from spring 2017, directors of firms responsible for nuisance calls could each be fined up to £500,000 by the ICO if they breached the PECR.

So far, it has failed to introduce such measures.

“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,” said Which? managing director of home products and services, Alex Neill.

“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.”

Colin Truran, principal technology evangelist at Quest, claimed that nuisance calls can “drive people to panic” if they think they may have had their data breached.

“It can also drive a tidal wave of Subject Access Requests and Right of Erasure requests between the victim and anyone they have passed their details to in the past,” he added.

“So, who’s to blame for this? The directors of the companies. The government needs to hold the directors personally accountable and by this I don’t mean a short-term suspension — this should include the banning of offenders from working in the industry to safeguard the public.” 

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