The DMA has welcomed new Government plans that will force direct marketing companies to display their telephone numbers in a bid to tackle the scourge of nuisance calls.
The industry body has been calling for the introduction of mandatory caller-ID for months, as it is already a requirement of the DMA Code.
Research shows that around one in five live and automated direct marketing calls that were reported to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) as a nuisance call did not provide valid caller ID.
The proposal to make it a requirement for telemarketers to provide valid Calling Line Identification (CLI) will deal with this problem head on. The Government claims the move will not only improve consumer choice, by making it easier for people to refuse and report unwanted marketing calls, but make it easier for the ICO to investigate and take enforcement action against callers that persistently and deliberately break the rules.
Companies found breaching the law by making nuisance calls can be fined up to £500,000 depending on the type of calls and severity of the case.
DMA head of external affairs Mike Lordan said: “Reputable companies take responsibility for their marketing activities. This means that they should display a valid CLI number in any marketing call. This way the company is accountable to its customers, who in turn have another reason to trust them.
“We expect DMA members to always display a valid CLI number when they make marketing calls. It’s a requirement in the DMA Code.
“We welcome any new regulations to make the display of CLI numbers the law. This will help drive out nuisance and rogue callers, and help consumers plagued by rogue callers to complain to the Telephone Preference Service, so they can in turn be effectively prosecuted by the Information Commissioner.”
The ICO has also welcomed the move; head of enforcement Steve Eckersley commented: “When people are able to identify the number behind the call they’ve received, they’re more likely to complain to us and we’re more able to take action.
“We’ve investigated unscrupulous companies who hid their identities. This doesn’t mean we can’t track them down, but it certainly makes our job more difficult. Any changes that make it easier for us to track down and take action against companies making nuisance calls is a change that will reduce the annoyance these calls cause.”
Baroness Neville-Rolfe, Minister for data protection, added: “Being pestered by marketing calls is annoying at the best of times and at its worst it can bring real misery for the people on the receiving end. There is no simple solution to the problem of nuisance calls, but making direct marketing companies display their telephone number will help consumers and regulators take action.
“Companies are already being financially punished when they blatantly flout the rules, and mandatory caller ID is just another step we are taking as part of a closely coordinated effort with regulators, industry and consumer groups to tackle the problem.”
Over the past few years there has been a substantial rise in the number of concerns reported to the ICO about nuisance marketing calls and texts, with an increase of over 11% in 2014/15 alone.
Since January 2012, the ICO has issued fines totalling nearly £2m for serious cases of nuisance calls. In September 2015, Home Energy & Lifestyle Management (HELM) was fined £200,000 for making over 6 million nuisance calls as part of a massive automated call marketing campaign.
The six-week consultation closes on February 23 2016 and following this, the Government plans to bring the measure into force in spring 2016.
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