This week saw a change in the law concerning call calling. Previously companies who used cold telephone calling could only be fined if the recipient was able to prove that the calls had led to “substantial damage or distress”. From now onwards, the new rules mean that a company acting this way could be fined for causing annoyance or anxiety from only a single text message or phone call. Fines of up to £500, 000 are possible for any organisation that calls individuals or companies who have registered their number with the Telephone Preference Service.
For many consumers, this will come as welcome news. As reported in our recent blog post, Ed Vaisey, the Digital Economy minister supports the change. He commented “this change will make it easier to take action against offenders and it sends a clear message to others that harassing consumers with nuisance calls or texts is just not on”.
So, what steps can you take to stop receiving nuisance calls?
1. Register your landline or mobile number for free with the telephone preference Service (TPS) to indicate that you wish to stop receiving such calls. You can do this by visiting the website www.tpsonline.org.uk. It will take 28 from the date of your registration to take effect.
2. Companies are now not allowed to phone you unless you give them express permission. Many people do unwittingly agree to receive calls or texts when they sign forms to buy other products or when they enter a competition online. Often the permission is buried somewhere in the small print where you are asked to tick (or sometimes untick) a box about receiving marketing material. Always read the small print carefully to avoid making this easy mistake.
3. To stop unwanted text messages you will need to send a free text to your mobile phone operator on 7726. The mobile operator will then send you back a text asking for the details of the spam text you received and the number it was sent from. If you continue to receive texts, please report them to the Information Commissioners office (ICO) on 0303 123 1113.
For companies, charities, voluntary organisations and political parties who wish to continue using legitimate outbound phone calls or text messages as part of their marketing mix, you need to make sure you are fully compliant with the new laws. We recommend you sign up for a telephone preference checking service to make sure all your marketing is legal and legitimate.