Baroness Neville Rolfe, the minister responsible for data protection, has said that direct marketing companies registered in the UK will need to display their phone numbers when making unsolicited phone calls from Monday 16 May – even if their call centres are based abroad.
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has said that the move follows positive backing in a public consultation and extensive work with regulators, industry, and consumer groups.
Rolfe said that nuisance calls were incredibly intrusive and could cause significant harm to elderly and vulnerable members of society. As a result, she said that the Government was committed to tackling the problem by making it easier for consumers to report companies by forcing them to display their phone numbers. The personal injury and PPI claims sectors have long been troubled by cold calling tactics.
“We’re sending a clear message to rogue direct marketing companies,” said Rolfe.
“Nuisance calls are unacceptable and we will not hesitate to take action against the companies behind them.
“We’re sending a clear message to rogue direct marketing companies. Nuisance calls are unacceptable and we will not hesitate to take action against the companies behind them.”
The crackdown follows news that a substantial number of fines totalling £895,000 have been issued by the ICO. In 2015, this Government made it easier to fine nuisance callers by removing the need for consumers to prove that unwanted marketing calls were causing substantial distress and damage.
Jonathan White, Director of Legal at National Accident Helpline – an inaugural signatory of the Ethical Marketing Charter – said that his company, along with other signatories of the Ethical Marketing Charter, wholeheartedly supported the Government’s move.
“We have long been calling for stricter regulation and enforcement in this area,” he said.
“Yet effectively tackling this issue will require a proactive approach not only from government and regulators but industries and individual business themselves. National Accident Helpline and other leading businesses have been leading the way in the personal injury sector through founding the Ethical Marketing Charter – an industry-led initiative that calls on firms in the personal injury sector to commit to ethical marketing practices and to never cold call, text or email.
“60 businesses have signed up to the Charter since its launch in July 2015, and we would call on other sectors to take a similar, industry-led approach in order to help eradicate this harmful practice for the benefit of consumers.”