/ Money

Watch out for scam calls about your pension

Older person on phone

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?

deepsea says:
18 April 2015

I recently bought a BT8500 phone – brilliant. No unwanted calls as all are barred. Well worth the £40 it cost. Peace at last

Vic says:
26 April 2015

In order to cut down on nuisance calls I purchased a ‘CPR Call Blocker’. This is very good at stopping calls once I have a number to block. It will also stop ‘Unavailable’ numbers effectively. There is the capability to block ‘Withheld’ numbers and that is for me a problem. It seems these days that doctors, hospitals, district nurses, and other people I need to maintain contact with are withholding their numbers when making calls. I cannot block withheld nuisance calls because if I block one withheld number I block them all. So any nuisance callers that withhold their number are still getting through. If I didn’t need to ensure that the doctors and nurses messages get through I would block withheld calls and my phone would be a lot quieter.

I now screen my calls through the answer machine if I see a ‘withheld’ message on the caller display. Very often this leads to the caller hanging up. I have no caller details so I cannot report them. Other times I get recorded messages that do not reveal what organisation is calling. I am directed in the message to press a named key on my telephone – a thing I am not prepared to do as I suspect that could in the end cost me money. Again, without details I cannot report them. The only calls that are withheld that I answer are those where someone I can identify speaks during the screening process.

Its not perfect to use the call block plus screening but this process has halved my nuisance caller problem. I am now considering a BT8500 phone. If it works as well as the claims made it may just solve all my nuisance call problem.

Steve Cashman says:
12 May 2015

Many of the spam callers use the 0843 number sequence. For some reason the owners of these numbers are protected by OFCOM, they prevent you getting their physical address, billing address or phone details of the owners.

If the victims of these SPAM calls could phone the owners up to complain, or be given the real address of the owners they could get action taken against them, Small Claims Court action for time wasted etc.


many of the nuisance calls begin with 0843 and are easy to ignore, but the last two calls I received looked like ordinary mobile numbers so I answered them.
one of them, a women caller, insisted, despite my denials, that I must have had some sort of ppi at some stage of my life.
I ended the call with a two word riposte, and it wasn’t bye bye!

Sheila Abbott says:
16 May 2015

It’s a sad fact that some newspapers carry advertisements which say that unless you fill in the cut-out coupon in all fields (for whatever commodity you’re ordering) they will not supply you with the goods.

These include such personal information as your date of birth and your telephone number (including STD). Why do they want this information if it isn’t to sell your name on? They certainly don’t need it to process your order for a bra, pair of shoes etc.

For example look at the back few pages in today’s Daily Mail Magazine “Weekend”

The newspapers can’t do this and, on the other hand, run campaigns about cold calling ; it’s sheer hypocracy!


It’s the same on-line. Retailers are gathering far more information than they need to fulfil the orders. I must have given my telephone number thousands of times but I have never had a call from a retailer in regard to the order. I never give my mobile phone number outside a very close circle; as a consequence I never get any nuisance calls or texts on it. I wouldn’t deal with a company that required my personal details like age and date of birth before processing an order. There must be thousands of scammers reaping this information and selling it on to cold-calling sharks.

Jenny chippendale says:
25 May 2015

We have been receiving 3 nuisance calls daily about 3 days weekly recently- mainly about ppl. As soon as I hear the message I replace the receiver immediately.


Cold callers I love them (not), however I have found an effective method of getting them to hang up on me, I speak to them in another language, or a combination of two foreign languages, they soon hang up, you don’t have to be fluent in any language just learn a few phrases and talk gibberish at them, or even make your own language up, and fire that at them. I have been doing this for a while now and the companies that I do it to generally don’t call back.

Another thing along these lines that annoys me is junk mail so when I receive any I look for the pre paid envelope, seal it in it’s empty state pop my partial post code on the back and post it back to them, I along with a few friends do this, which adds to the companies overheads. This I realise is just a drop in the ocean to the companies involved, but if thousands of us were to do it then it could make a substantial difference to their overheads and dissuade them from sending junk mail out, and this is good news for trees