The head of the Telephone Preference Service has refuted suggestions that the scheme is failing to block millions of so-called nuisance calls, insisting that even more consumers need to complain if the telemarketing cowboys are to be stopped in their tracks.
John Mitchison, TPS director of policy and compliance at the DMA, made the claim after official figures have revealed that, following a fall during lockdown, rogue telemarketers are back with a vengeance.
According to the Information Commissioner’s Office, there were 103,733 complaints under the Privacy & Electronic Communications Regulations in 2020, compared to 129,354 in 2019 and 124,363 in 2018. Even so, the number of gripes is still equivalent to nearly 300 a day, seven days a week.
The decline was mainly due to rogue call centres being closed during the first lockdown and the ICO reports that complaints have now returned to “normal” levels; it even suggests that a third of complaints are now due to Covid-19 scams.
The regulator has long been pursuing companies which breach PECR rules but there seems to be no shortage of businesses which are still flouting the regulations. The past few weeks have seen a raft of companies fined for calling consumers registered on the TPS, which would suggest that this abuse is still widespread.
But Mitchison said: “Rogue organisations that are willing to ignore the UK laws put in place to protect consumers risk being prosecuted. The ICO recently issued fines totalling £480,000 to multiple companies making unlawful calls to numbers registered with the TPS which shows that serial offenders will be brought to justice.
“Over the past five years, the total number of complaints received by the TPS has fallen from 89,000 in 2016 to 18,000 in 2020, which shows progress is being made.
“However, the TPS cannot stop every rogue call so the public must remain vigilant. If someone does receive a nuisance call, it is essential to the empowerment of services like the TPS that people not only register but also complain. The more people who do, the greater number of organisations that will be held accountable to the laws in place to protect consumers.”
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