Rogues back on the phones as PECR gripes hit new high

abandond call 2Concerns that the UK could be hit by a fresh barrage of nuisance calls have been realised with the latest figures showing consumer complaints about telemarketing activity have continued at record levels in the first six months of this year.

According to the latest figures from the Information Commissioner’s Office, from January to June 2021 there were 83,558 complaints under the Privacy & Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR), covering live calls, automated calls and SMS, more than double the same period last year (38,629).

In fact, complaints are running at a four-year high; there were 69,362 in the first six months of 2019, 49,527 in 2018, and 73,765 in 2017 during the same six-month period.

The writing had been on the wall since April, when Decision Marketing revealed that January and February had also seen gripes soaring.

In response to criticism of its record on nuisance calls, the ICO recently stated: “We continue to work with our fellow regulators and with government to best direct and co-ordinate our collective resources on this important issue.”

However, back in May, Ofcom admitted the UK is lagging other countries in the war against so-called “spoofing” – the technique widely used by telemarketing scammers so they can hide their real number – conceding it will be at least four years before the issue is finally addressed.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Money Box, Ofcom director of network infrastructure and resilience Huw Saunders warned that caller IDs should not be used as a means of verifying a caller’s identification as fraudsters are increasingly changing their caller ID to disguise their own identity.

A report from industry body UK Finance recently suggested the number of reported cases of impersonation fraud – including spoof calls – nearly doubled last year to 40,000 but the real figure is likely to be much higher due to under-reporting.

Back in February, the ICO estimated that the coronavirus now accounts for a third of all rogue calls, following a lull in complaints during lockdown.

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