The Which?-led Task Force on Nuisance Calls will soon publish its recommendations. Before then, the Government has made another concession to help you tackle unwanted phone calls…
In response to an amendment to the Consumer Rights Bill tabled by Baroness Hayter in the House of Lords, the Government has promised to make it a legal requirement for companies to use Caller Line Identification (CLI) when they make marketing calls. See column 915.
Now, you’d be forgiven for not knowing what CLI actually is. I once saw an interview with TalkTalk CEO Dido Harding, who, after her technical people had explained what CLI was, exclaimed ‘oh, you mean it’s the phone number that’s ringing me’. That’s exactly what CLI is – the number ringing you appears on your phone’s caller display.
Standing up for caller display
Mandatory CLI is something we called for when we first launched our Calling Time on Nuisance Calls campaign, and goes further than the Government’s Action Plan which came about due to your support. And CLI matters, because without it not only is it hard for you to know who’s calling you, it’s also very difficult to report unwanted calls to the regulators.
In Autumn 2013, both the Select Committee on Culture Media and Sport and the All Party Group on Nuisance Calls backed our call for mandatory CLI. As did Alun Cairns MP who tabled a 10 Minute Rule Bill in Parliament.
In March 2014, the Government said it preferred a voluntary approach in its Nuisance Calls Action Plan. However, after we wrote to six leading trade associations requesting that they meet the terms of the voluntary Direct Marketing Association code of practice on CLI, we only got a positive response from one of them. Now, a year later, the Government has backed it too and all marketing calls will legally have to come with CLI.
Knowing who’s calling you
Caller display won’t solve nuisance calls – firms that already ignore the law will no doubt continue to do so and fail to send their CLI – but it will certainly help. If you have a landline phone with caller display, you’ll be able to see the number that’s calling you, other than those who have a legitimate reason to withhold it (such as the police or the NHS).
Meanwhile, Ofcom continues to investigate the more complex issue of how to stop marketing firms ‘spoofing’ their CLI, and ICO will try to take enforcement action against companies that continue to flout the rules.
Now there’s the small matter of getting this CLI concession implemented as soon as possible – hopefully in 2015. I think it’s time to make a call to the Government…