Nuisance calls and texts to be met with massive fines

25 February 2015

telesales telephone Those irritating gits who run companies that mither everyone with nuisance calls and texts are looking at some new regulations that will slap them with huge fines. We're talking penalties of (up to, of course) £500,000.

The current laws don't do much to discourage these spam merchants, but that's apparently going to change, as new rules will make it much easier to penalise them.

They come into play from April 6th and they mean that the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) won't have to prove that unwanted messages are causing a "substantial damage or substantial distress" any more.

In addition to that, the Government are also looking at bringing in new rules which will see that executives on the board of these businesses will also be held responsible for these calls and messages.

"For far too long companies have bombarded people with unwanted marketing calls and texts, and escaped punishment because they did not cause enough harm," said digital economy minister Ed Vaizey. "This change will make it easier for the Information Commissioner's Office to take action against offenders and send a clear message to others that harassing consumers with nuisance calls or texts is just not on."

We all know how slippery these cold-callers are, so it would be wise to avoid holding your breath until we actually see someone getting a massive fine. Still, this is, initially, very good news for everyone.

TOPICS:   Scams

1 comment

  • Ian
    Despite the public making more than a million complaints over the last few years, the ICO has so far taken action against less than a dozen companies. Several of those companies haven't paid up. One was dissolved. Another has appealed the penalties and the decision has not yet been announced. Another won on appeal because "substantial" annoyance and distress had not been proven. It is this latter case that has led to the forthcoming change in regulation that has been announced today. The ICO requested this change almost two years ago. It is a minor procedural change and it will not lead to a massive increase in the number of companies being investigated or penalised. If the regulations had been changed when the ICO first requested this, it would already be obvious that the change did not lead to any noticeable reduction in the number of nuisance calls. Instead, the government sat on it for almost 18 months before having a consultation and then announcing this minor change in the law. Bold promises about the "end of nuisance calls" have been made. The election will be long over before everyone realises that today's announcement is no more than spin and hype over a minor change in the wording. Be aware that the change in the limit to £500K actually happened about two years ago. That part is not new. It is also important to realise that when the ICO penalises a company they are not allowed to cause that company any financial hardship. The ICO is the wrong regulator for this job and their powers are weak. The role of ICO should be to mop up the small number of cases that cannot be handled by sector specific regulators. On that point, the Claims Management Regulator, for example, can suspend or remove a company's licence to trade. They could quite easily ban the collection of leads by use of the telephone, and ban the usage of leads collected by telephone, within their sector and nuisance calls would dry up almost overnight. This is the sort of regulation that would be effective but it isn't currently being considered.

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