From today, it’s a lot easier for the ICO to fine nuisance calling companies. This is especially good news considering the predicted influx of calls about pensions. Here’s the ICO on why you must report these calls.
Previously, in order to issue a fine of up to £500,000, our office had to be able to demonstrate that a company’s activities caused, or had the potential to cause, substantial damage or substantial distress to the individuals affected.
This has been problematic and led to a situation where we had to wait for a company to generate the necessary volumes of complaints before we could issue a fine.
This existing bar was removed this morning, meaning that we are now able to fine those companies responsible for pestering people with unwanted marketing at a much earlier stage.
We’ve been pushing for this change for over a year now with the support of others, including Which?. And it appears that this strengthening of our powers was made just in time…
Nuisance calls about your pension
Only last week, the Daily Mail reported that shady elements within the cold calling industry are getting ready to take advantage of the pension liberation changes by targeting pensioners with calls and texts in order to get their hands on people’s pension pots.
The news followed a previous warning from our office that we were getting ready for a huge spike in the number of scam texts and calls linked to pensions when the pension changes come through on 6 April.
The Mail’s disturbing findings sadly confirm that our fears may be well founded. Personal data is such a valuable asset, particularly financial information. The worst case scenario here is this information getting into the wrong hand and being used to target individuals at a critical point in their financial lives. The good news is that our enhanced powers mean that the ICO is able to lead the fight back.
We have already issued fines totalling over £800,000 against companies responsible for breaching the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations by making nuisance calls and sending spam texts. As of today, this figure is set to increase, but we can only use our new powers using complaints received from today onwards.
This is where you can help us out.
Report nuisance calls and spam texts
If you’re registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS), companies shouldn’t be able to bother you with marketing calls. The only way a company can contact you again is if they have your consent.
We’d like to know about any nuisance calls or spam texts you get that break these rules. You can use Which?’s reporting tool to find the right regulator to report the nuisance call you’ve received. Even if you don’t have the name of the company who called you, every little bit of information you provide will be used to identify and punish those responsible.
So the next time you’re pestered with a nuisance call or text let us know about it and you’ll be joining the growing numbers calling time on nuisance calls. And if you’ve had any calls about your pension, we’d like to hear about that too.
This is a guest post by Steve Eckersley, who leads the Enforcement Team in the Information Commissioner’s Office. All opinions are Steve’s own, not necessarily those of Which?