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Ed Vaizey MP: What we're doing to stop nuisance calls

Stop button on nuisance calls phone

The Government today announced an Action Plan to tackle the menace that is nuisance calls. Here’s communications minister Ed Vaizey to share how your calls have influenced the Government to take action.

I don’t want to make a claim for mis-sold PPI. But what I really don’t want is anymore phone calls offering to help me make a claim.

I along with many, many others have had enough.

The rules are clear – register with the Telephone Preference Service and the calls should stop if you’ve asked them to. But they don’t. We continue to be plagued by unwanted calls from companies trying to sell us some product or service. It has to stop.

Action to stop nuisance calls

For the first time, we’ve got everyone together. I’ve been meeting with other ministers, regulators, consumer groups like Which? and industry to produce a proper co-ordinated plan of attack. And it’s already bearing results.

Regulators have spoken to problem firms. Legitimate companies, like British Gas and TalkTalk, have swiftly cleaned up their act with complaints against them falling by as much as 75%.

They know annoying your customers with endless, unwanted calls is not the way to build a successful business.

For the others – the cowboys and chancers with no reputation to worry about – they’re being hit where it hurts. Fines worth £2.54m have been dished out since January 2012.

New rules to tackle nuisance calls

We’re going to consult for the first time ever to lower the threshold for imposing sanctions. I’ve asked Richard Lloyd at Which? to lead a task force to make sure that people only hear from who they want to hear from. And we’re now looking at other ways to crack down on these cowboys and stop them from getting your details in the first place.

We’re going to make it easier for regulators to share intelligence about rogue companies, and Which? will lead a review of how people agree to receiving marketing calls.

There is no simple answer to this problem. But we now have a co-ordinated approach to beating this nuisance.

This is a guest post by Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture, Communications & Creative Industries. All opinions expressed here are his own, not necessarily those of Which?.


“There is no simple answer to this problem” Really? Well maybe stop worrying about upsetting comms companies and the direct marketing association and you’d find it fairly simple to address. Like fining comms companies for connecting these calls in the first place. Isn’t it the same as someone coming to your door distracting you whilst others rob you. And if it isn’t them maybe it should.

“Fines worth £2.54m have been dished out since January 2012” doesn’t seem much and is clearly not acting as a deterrent

And why to date do companies start of with a warning, If I break laws affecting thousands I doubt I’d get let off with a warning to clean my act up, maybe if I say sorry? Well sorry, its been too soft for too long.

Fines are not enough because the nuisance callers simply factor in the fines as a business expense. This practice needs to be criminalised with prison sentences, including extraditing those from abroad who plague UK residents with nuisance calls.

CPR Call Blocker says:
31 March 2014

There is a simple answer ,CALL BLOCKING TECHNOLOGY ,it is here ,it is now and it works.What is being done to promote the fact that solutions are out there?.

Like many people, I don’t see why I should have to pay to stop receiving phone calls I’ve NEVER requested.

And as its very easy to spoof your number, all determined companies will do is start spoofing more numbers.

John Roberts says:
18 May 2014

Simple answer…Buy a ‘Call Blocker’ I did from my local server Karoo and it has reduced those nuisance calls dramatically

Lizzie Windsor says:
21 July 2014

You said the simple answer is to “BUY a call blocker”.
Why should we have to pay out our hard earned to stop something that, if we are registered with TPS, is illegal? And has been for ages. We all know TPS is useless. And the number of nuisance callers being financially inconvenienced by fines is pitiful. They just build it into their cost of operating and carry on annoying us.THE MAIN PROBLEM IS OUR POLITICIANS. They are the ones who are not listening to us and doing nothing about something we all suffer from.
Which?. How is this problem addressed in other countries? Is there a solution out there? You have the ability to find out.
Please let us know.

I agree with the premise asking why should we have to spend more money to stop something that we don’t want in the 1st place, but I do think a balance has to be struck against the options that we are left with. By this, I mean, rely on somebody else to do it (Government, TPS etc…who don’t appear to grasp the nettle) or attempt to solve it for ourselves.

The levels of unwanted calls that our household was receiving had reached between 20-30 a week, most being at times that were inconvenient, and their content certainly unwelcomed!

I bought a ‘Call Saint’ from Amazon (£24.99), and incidentally I have no connection with this company other than that of a satisfied customer. It was easy to set up being installed in series with the phone line, though I did have to purchase a better ADSL/Phone filter as initially all incoming calls were being blocked. I was able to ‘Blacklist’ nuisance calls progressively as they occurred. Occasionally one gets through but that is usually because the callers are using a selection of numbers, and the blocker hasn’t met it before. If I say that I am in my late 60’s and have never been a computer expert, that might tell you how easy I found the device to set up.

The next part of this battle will come good for us when the mobile phone providers play their part!!!

I hope these few words will help ease the frustration of unwanted calls in the same way as it has helped me…..Good Luck!

I applaud the attempt but honestly I don’t think much will change. Most if not all of the cold calls I get are from abroad and they claim they are not selling anything just doing a survey. However if you complete the survey you are “expressing an interest” which then leads to the sales call, which because you did the survey you are deemed to have given permission for.
So I don’t think any UK legislation will solve this.
The only way to stop it is if everyone gives cold callers very short shrift, buy nothing, don’t do surveys and even if necessary be rude to them because of their intrusion.
If only one person in a hundred, maybe even one in a thousand, plays along they’ll consider the sales tactic worth doing and will continue,
It’s up to us????

Agree with Chris.
Most of the problems are with overseas calls ; unless you can target any UK based company who is getting fed sales leads from these overseas firms I cannot see what the UK can realistically do .

Well I’m sure the UK has extradition treaties with countries like India, the suspected home of the Microsoft phone scam. So why is it so hard if someone has fallen for their lies, and has paid using a card, then surely the card issuer knows who’s received the money, if not then surely that card issuer should be shut down. Contact the appropriate authority in that country, job done? I can only assume it is a lack of will from the authorities to do the simple thing. Or is that too simple ?

So it is possible to catch people behind phone scams http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-26818745

But why oh why are the punishments so low #crimeseemstopay

I’ve been registered with the Telephone Preference Service for a while, and it has definitely reduced the number of unwanted calls. Also, at my behest, my telephone provider blocks incoming withheld numbers, and I’ve got the caller display feature too, so that I can see the number that’s ringing before I decide to answer.

BT (and presumably other providers) comes out will all the platitudes about stopping nuisance calling, and provides useless services to supposedly stop it. I pay to have caller display, the only useful facility in my opinion.. It used to be free, but BT started charging for it. In other words, profiting from nuisance calling. How about a campaign for free caller display?

While they are at it is about time international caller display was fixed. I would then be able to recognise when my brother phones me from Canada.

Nick says:
9 April 2014

One great difficulty in detecting the source of these calls in order to report them is that so many companies withhold their phone number. There is no reason for commercial firms to have the facility to withhold the number they are calling from, so the facility should be withdrawn as so many of them abuse it. There is an online “38 Degrees” petition to that effect. To find it and sign it search for “End Telephone Number Withholding”.

Yesterday I received a spam email from 192.com boasting that they now had the 2014 Electoral Rolls . . . 18 million records they claim. Tou you and me that is our data which they and others cross reference with ‘phone books, credit records, social network sites and everywhere else they can farm our data. On little reported item in connection with the Royal Mail privatisation was the selling off of OUR data, the postcodes database which will soon be amalgamated with everything else as yet another layer of galleries in the ‘data mine’.

This is where the problem often starts, why nuisances and pests know so much about us. This would be a good place to start cutting off the data feed which is the other side of the coin to the communications channels. Remember, before the surge in nuisance calls it was spam and before spam it was junk mail.

If you want to be truly frightened just search yourself on 192.com. Up will come your complete profile. THIS must be stopped and a place to start is by making the Electoral Roll confidential and campaigning to make our data OUR data.

Took a phone call from Zenith Windows this morning, (number withheld), in which their caller alleged that I had completed a telephone survey, (I had not), and agreed to be call. Apart from my name and telephone number he could not give me any further details about the original survey, nor was he allowed to provide me with his phone number.

I did point out that it was a legal requirement under PECR2003 Regulation 24(2)(b), for him to provide his phone number when so requested, but basically he could not care whether it was the law or not. The fact it was a TPS number was explained by the fact his data was wrong!

Clearly there is no point in reporting this, but I would suggest any company refusing to provide their phone number, or providing a false number should be subject to heavier fines

Nick says:
14 April 2014

Further evidence of the need for companies not to be allowed the facility to withhold their numbers