The Government is to transfer the ownership of the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) from Ofcom to the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) in an attempt to make it easier to crackdown on nuisance callers.
The transfer, taking place on 30 December, will mean that the ICO can deal with complaints about nuisance callers at a quicker rate, according to the Government.
At present, Ofcom keeps up-to-date registers of the telephone and fax numbers of people who have notified TPS that they do not wish to receive direct marketing calls.
But by placing responsibility for the service with the ICO, which currently dishes out fines to nuisance callers, it will be even easier for the ICO to go after rogue companies in breach of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR).
It further has the power to clamp down on organisations that make unsolicited telephone calls to those registered to TPS without their consent. In addition, as the ICO will have direct access to the data, it will also have control over how the register is maintained, as well as how complaints are recorded and handled.
Minister of State for Digital and Culture Matt Hancock said: “Nuisance callers are a blight on society, causing significant distress to elderly and vulnerable people. We have been clear that we will not stand for this continued harassment. Last month, we announced plans to make directors personally liable for nuisance calls. Now, we are going to strengthen the enforcement of the rules by giving the Information Commissioner powers to act, all part of our on-going campaign against rogue callers.
“This measure will enable complaints arising from nuisance calls and faxes to be dealt with more quickly.”
To date, the ICO has issued fines totalling almost £3.7million to companies behind nuisance marketing. And this year alone, the ICO has fined firms responsible for more than 70 million calls and nearly 8 million spam text messages.
More than 114,000 nuisance calls and texts have been reported to ICO this year.
At the same time, the Kindertons Group has pledged never to make a cold call.
The entire Kindertons Group – which is made up of accident aftercare service providers to the insurance industry – subscribes to the Ethical Marketing Charter, set up by National Accident Helpline which is aimed at removing nuisance marketing and cold calling altogether.
Neil Cunningham, Kindertons Group CEO, said: “The Kindertons Group wholeheartedly supports a ban on cold calling and nuisance marketing. Cold calling is an incredibly intrusive practice that our Group companies simply will not entertain. We value customer service and privacy and will do all we can to protect them. I would like to see all the companies in our broad sectors of accident management and insurance get behind this campaign.
“We are now promoting internally to staff just how easy it is to report a cold call and will encourage everyone to act. As a company we can lead the way, but it is through consumers reporting bad companies that cold calling will be eradicated.”