New call to make TPS opt-in only

New call to make TPS opt-in onlyThe Government is facing fresh demands to make the Telephone Preference Service opt-in only, following a new report by Ofcom which shows nuisance calls are still running wild.
In what has been a nightmare week for the direct marketing industry – and there is still another day to go – StepChange Debt Charity is calling on ministers to go even further in their clampdown on telemarketing.
The main issue, however, is what actually constitutes a nuisance call. Most consumers do not realise that companies are permitted to contact them if they have an existing relationship with either the brand or the data company which provides the contact list.
As far as most consumers are concerned, nearly all phone calls are a nuisance, and even though industry trade body the DMA has welcomed new legislation – which makes it easier for the regulators to fine rogue firms – it will be fiercely resistant to making the TPS opt-in only.
The move would bring the UK in line with Germany – where cold telemarketing is outlawed – but the DMA argues it will harm legitimate UK marketing activity.
Not that the DMA is entirely happy with the new laws; it wants legitimate marketers to be forced to use caller IDs, and to ensure the Information Commissioner’s Office has the resources to carry out the larger amount of enforcement work required to make the legislation a success.
For its part the Information Commissioner’s Office has said it will only “spank the bad boys” rather than those firms who are unwittingly caught up in the furore. But this has not gone down well in some quarters.
Now Ofcom has revealed that there has been no reduction in the level of nuisance calls over the past year, with four in five people still receiving unsolicited marketing calls. The Government’s own estimates show there are more than 1 billion nuisance calls made a year.
StepChange Debt Charity’s head of policy Peter Tutton reiterated his call for opt-in only, first made in October 2013. He said: “The current methods of dealing with these potentially harmful calls are clearly ineffective. We must now see more action from government and regulators to make real change happen. In particular, we believe that the TPS should be made an opt-out, not opt-in, service for all households – an approach that is proven to work well in other countries.
“We also need the Financial Conduct Authority to impose a ban on the unsolicited real time promotion of high-cost credit products. Our research showed that 1.2m British adults have been tempted to take out high-cost credit, such as payday loans, as a result of unsolicited marketing calls or text messages.”

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