Legitimate businesses must shoulder some of the blame for the estimated one billion nuisance calls being made in the UK every year, as so many fail to check whether the data they are using is legal.
That is the damning verdict of Telephone Preference Service chief executive John Mitchison, who is urging both consumers and companies not to ignore rogue callers but to report them to either the TPS or the Information Commissioner’s Office.
Writing in the Nottingham Post, Mitchison conceded that many rogue companies do not care they are breaking the law.
He added: “Most are acting as middlemen, collecting personal information which they will then sell on. Some of these are based overseas, in places like South Africa and the Philippines, but others will have some sort of presence in the UK – and if you are working overseas for a UK-based company the same rules apply. And some will be based in the UK but just prepared to take the risk.
“There’s not a single solution to the problem. But ultimately the responsibility is on the end user – the company that is buying this data for telemarketing, for example – to check that it has been legitimately collected. You have to stop [companies] buying the data in the first place.”
Mitchison’s comments come as Information Commissioner Christopher Graham welcomed the new laws on telemarketing – scrapping the threshold on the number of calls required to fine firms – which came into force this week.
Graham said: “We’ve been pushing for this change for two years, and we’re sure it will make a difference. The change will help us to make more fines stick, and more fines should prove a real deterrent to the people making these calls.”
However, Graham warned that will not mean his office handing out penalties immediately: “We can only fine companies that we can prove committed serious breaches of the law after the rules changed – so we can’t fine companies for something they did last week.
“We’ll be collecting evidence for investigations under the new rules from today. That means we need people to report calls and texts to us. We can then start investigating cases, and ultimately issuing penalties.”
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