The Government is being urged to give the regulator more powers to fine rogue telemarketing firms after Which? revealed consumers who signed up to the Telephone Preference Service received double the number of cold calls of those who were not on the list.
Some 19 million phone numbers are now registered to the TPS – around three-quarters of all landlines in the UK – a number which has grown rapidly over recent years. Yet 60% are not satisfied with the service, according to Which?.
But while they do report a decrease in nuisance calls after signing up, they received on average 10 unsolicited calls a month, compared to five calls for those who have not signed up. One BBC Breakfast viewer claimed she had even been woken up at 4am by a PPI claim company.
“Consumers are sick and tired of being bombarded with nuisance calls and texts,” said Which? executive director Richard Lloyd. “The current system is failing the public and given the scale of this problem, it’s time for the Government to step in.
“We urgently need to see a new approach, new laws and new technology to tackle this scourge on people’s lives. People must be put back in control of their personal data.”
Which? is calling on the Information Commissioner’s Office, the Ministry of Justice, Ofcom and the Office of Fair Trading to form a joint taskforce within 12 weeks to stop unwanted calls and texts.
The ICO can issue fines of up to £500,000 for breaches of regulations on unwanted calls, texts and emails. In March, the regulator issued its first monetary penalty for nuisance calls since it gained extra powers last year.
Glasgow-based DM Design – offering bespoke kitchens and bathrooms – was slapped with a £90,000 fine for what the regulator described as a “clear disregard for the law and a lamentable attitude” to the people it was targeting.
But Jenny Driscoll at Which? added: “Why does the person who receives these nuisance calls have to do all the work? The regulator should be able to act quickly rather than build a body of evidence. At the moment they don’t have power or resources. The Government must take action.”
Mike Lordan, chief of operations for the DMA, which runs the TPS, said that by allowing rogue companies to operate outside the law, the regulators were “seriously harming the legitimate telemarketing industry”. He said the industry employs “more than one million workers and adds billions of pounds to the UK economy”.
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