Which? launches nuisance calls crackdown in Scotland

After finding nine in 10 Scots (91%) have received nuisance calls on their landline, Which? is calling for the Scottish Government and businesses to do more to cut off this every day menace.

Our new consumer research has revealed a shocking nine in 10 Scots (91%) have had a nuisance call to their phone in the last month. We also found three quarters (75%) said receiving cold calls had actually discouraged them from picking up their home phone when it rings. People say they received an average of 10 cold calls on their landline last month, with the most common calls being about Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) (66%), silent calls (55%) and the Green Deal or energy efficiency measures including boilers and double glazing (52%).

Our research also found that:

  • 92% of people agreed that nuisance calls are an annoying interruption to their daily life and four in 10 (40%) said they felt intimidated by them.
  • Eight in 10 (79%) say they have taken steps to minimise cold calls on their home phone including registering with the TPS (48%), screening their calls (37%) and a quarter (27%) had even registered their number as ex-directory.

We’re calling on people to support our Calling Time on Nuisance Calls campaign which asks the Scottish Government to publish an action plan setting out how it will work with business and regulators to call time on nuisance calls including:

  • Cracking down on businesses breaking the rules and holding senior executives to account.
  • Helping vulnerable people to cut the number of nuisance calls they receive.
  • Ensuring that new Scottish Government policy doesn’t lead to more nuisance calls.

Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd, said:

“With the vast majority of Scots getting nuisance calls, it is clear efforts must be re-doubled to tackle this modern menace. People are fed up with being bombarded with unwanted calls and texts that waste their time and invade their privacy.

 “The Scottish Government should lead the way by setting out how it plans to fight back against nuisance callers. Scottish businesses should make senior executives responsible if their firm makes unlawful calls.”

Across the UK more than 300,000 people have signed up to our ‘Calling Time on Nuisance calls’ campaign and people can report nuisance calls to regulators for free on the Which? website at www.which.co.uk/reportcalls

Notes to editors

  1. Research Now, on behalf of Which?, surveyed 1,000 residents of Scotland online between 11th and 19th November 2015. Data were weighted to be representative of age and gender of residents in Scotland.
  2. Our Calling Time on Nuisance Calls campaign has been supported by more than 300,000 people. There have been more than 65,000 uses of the Which? nuisance calls reporting tool, enabling people to complain to the regulators.
  3. The energy company SSE is the first major company to sign up to all campaign calls, putting a stop to cold calling in 2013 and recently announcing a senior director who will be held responsible if the company is found to be making nuisance calls.
  4. In December 2014, the Which?-led Task Force made 15 recommendations for business, regulators and the UK Government. The recommendations focused on:

Calling on businesses to improve their direct marketing practices

  • Businesses should make compliance with the rules on consumer consent a board level matter, with senior executives held to account for the behaviour of their company.
  • Companies should allow consumers to easily revoke consent to being contacted and view Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) guidance on a six-month time limit for third party consent as the minimum standard.
  • Marketing companies should ensure any sales leads they buy have been fairly and legally obtained and that they have a record of consumer consent being given.

Urging further action by the regulators

  • The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) should take account of the task force findings in any work it undertakes on the commercial use of personal data. The CMA should work with other regulators to understand issues which cause consumer harm and identify action to remedy problems.
  • The ICO should develop further practical solutions to causes of nuisance calls; and develop best practice for providing information to consumers, including wording for how people opt-in and opt-out of being contacted for marketing purposes.

Recommended action for UK Government

  • UK Government should lead a cross-sector business awareness campaign to ensure companies know their responsibilities when it comes to making marketing calls and texts; and consider how future legislation could tackle nuisance marketing, including making senior executives more responsible for the actions of their company.

Since publishing, the CMA has committed to reviewing personal data and the UK Government has committed funding to an awareness campaign. However action is still needed on other task force recommendations.

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