“This is only likely to be the tip of the iceberg”- Which? response to ICO’s new nuisance calls complaints figures. 

Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd  said:

“The volume of complaints to the ICO is growing and our research shows this is only likely to be the tip of the iceberg. This is why regulators, Government and industry must work harder to cut off unwanted calls and texts that annoy millions of us every day.

“The ICO must use its new powers to full effect and hit hard any company breaking cold calling rules. We also want to see senior executives personally held to account if their company makes unlawful calls.”

Notes to Editors

1, People can report unwanted calls for free on the Which? website at  www.which.co.uk/callingtime

2. Our previous researchshows that just just 2% of people who receive unwanted calls report them to the regulator, suggesting millions more are being received.

3. Which? launched its Calling Time on Nuisance Calls campaign, which has almost 200,000 supporters, after finding around eight in 10 people (83%) had received a nuisance call on their land line in the previous month. Eight in 10 people found these calls an annoying interruption, while one third felt intimidated by them. More than 66,000 complaints have been logged on the Which? Nuisance calls online complaint tool, – around 6,000 of these were in the last month alone.

4. In December 2014, the Which?-led Task Force made 15 recommendationsfor business, regulators and the Government. The recommendations focused on:

Calling on businesses to improve their direct marketing practices

  • Businesses to 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. We recommend 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 Government

  • 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 Government has committed funding to an awareness campaign. However action is still needed on other task force recommendations.


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