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Victory! Government announces a Nuisance Calls Action Plan

Nuisance calls success

In a victory for our Calling Time on Nuisance Calls & Texts campaign and its 112,000 supporters, the Government today announced an Action Plan to tackle this menace.

The Government’s Action Plan is the first comprehensive and co-ordinated effort on nuisance calls, and includes the following new measures:

• Lowering the threshold for the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) to take action against cold calling firms – calls will only have to cause annoyance rather than ‘substantial distress’.
• New regulations to let Ofcom and the ICO share information on rogue companies.
• The Ministry of Justice will consult on whether PPI cold callers should face fines of up to 20% of their annual turnover.
• Which? to lead a task force reviewing how people consent to receive marketing calls.

The Government’s culture secretary Maria Miller declared that ‘nuisance calls must stop’:

‘People need to feel safe and secure in their homes. The rules are clear – people have the right to choose not to receive unsolicited marketing calls. We will work to ensure their choice is respected.’

Which? to head up task force

Our campaign found that people are often unaware that they’ve given permission to be contacted by a company for marketing purposes. This is why the Government has asked us at Which? to set up a task force to review how consumers give and withdraw their consent to be contacted.

I’m delighted to be chairing the task force, which will bring together regulators, consumer and industry experts to tackle the issue of consent head on.

We now look forward to regulators using their new powers to help stop this growing problem from pestering people like Caroline:

‘Every day I receive cold calls regarding PPI. I dive to my phone every time it rings in case it is my mother needing help.’

This victory came about thanks to your support for our campaign – congratulations and we hope the scourge of nuisance calls is on its way out.

Are you still bombarded by nuisance calls? Are you happy to see action being taken at last?


When exactly does this action plan take effect?

And I’ve seen no info on how people without computers can report nuisance calls in the action plan.

And only 20% fine ? Statutory jail term for all directors is needed.in addition.

And I can’t see this affecting overseas calls either 🙁


I agree that prison sentences would be a strong deterrent against this illegal practice. Fines are not enough because these businesses factor the fines into their operating costs.

Ben the dog says:
30 March 2014

And how can they be reported when numbers are “witheld” or “not available” ? Surely telecoms suppliers also have to be actively involved or all this will be yet another fine sounding political initiative but ultimately fail.


If the number is withheld or unavailable, then you can always pretend that you are interested in their product and then gather as much information as possible about the business and the person who has called you. Ask for as much information as you can, e.g. their web site address, and then tell them that you are about to go out and you would like to give them a call back at a more convenient time, in which case they’ll give their phone number.

Another big problem is that BT Openreach deliberately conceals the caller’s number even when it is not withheld whenever the caller is outside the UK. I have tested this many times. If I call from a non-UK number to my BT Openreach line (including all BT LLU operators), then the number doesn’t show up, but if I call to any UK mobile, the number does show up. BT needs to fix this urgently to combat this nuisance calls menace.

tom gray says:
4 April 2014

The problem with overseas calls is that the call does not contain the tracing information that a UK call would have. The numbers are still traceable but it may be more difficult. Withheld calls can be traced by the provider, but BT seems to have changed its policy recently. Previously if you were having trouble from withheld calls they could put a trace on for a month and they would then contact the nuisance caller and tell them to desist. They have stopped this service without reason (perhaps because they make money from these calls?) I can say that the problem would be solved simply if they traced the number and let the person receiving the call know who it is. They claim the law does not allow them to do this. Meanwhile I pay them rental for a landline so that these twerps can cause me trouble. You really have to do your own detective work along the lines suggested by NFH and then take action on your own behalf along with reporting it to ICO or Ofcom

Josquine says:
5 April 2014

NFH: All this takes time and effort and hassle. I just don’t want to be bothered in the first place.

NickP says:
5 April 2014

> Ask for as much information as you can, e.g. their web site address, and then tell them that you are about to go out and you would like to give them a call back at a more convenient time, in which case they’ll give their phone number.

I’ve not gone to quite THAT extent, but it’s pretty clear that if they ever actually PROVIDE a name, then that name will NEVER show up in a phone book, or a web search, or in Companies House. I get the feeling that I would only be able to find who they REALLY are once one of their reps has made it through my front door, and I am NOT going to do that.

In addition to the suggestion above about BT displaying international numbers, a couple of simple legislative change might help:
1) All business lines to provide a correct caller ID as a condition of connecting to a UK network;
2) Only domestic phone lines to have the 141 (withhold caller ID) enabled.


Nick says:
9 April 2014

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”.


“a task force reviewing how people consent to receive marketing calls” or in layman’s terms a delaying tactic kicking it into the long grass. Especially in light of this action plan task force coming out of a initiative set up in Jan 2013 according to the ICO press release

Surely all they need to do is publish the following action plan:

1) Wording for opting in MUST use the SAME wording. e.g.. Click to opt in to receiving …

2) that wording to only be on one screen ( for internet opt-ins) where you specify name and address/ email etc and not in the case of some companies here there and everywhere with the wording AND meaning changing everytime.

3) The default is always blank.

Just those steps should slow some of these people down.

I’d also like to see a restriction on companies passing on details. If someone wants my details then sure if they pay me enough to change my identify and go into hiding afterwards. Otherwise no, it shouldn’t be allowed. The direct marketing organisation has due to lack of its own initiative brought these draconian measures on themselves.


On the subject of consent, there should be a time limit placed on it of at most 6 months but ideally 3 months; this would prevent the “old” consents still be used, as well as preventing “recycled” numbers being used. For example, in February this year, I was phoned by a company based on a March 2008 website consent form for an entirely different company; YES 6 years ago and it was not even my phone number in March 2008.

Furthermore, if your details are to be passed on, then the names of all the companies must be made available to you before you consent. No more use of the phrases “carefully selected companies” or “our partners”, and of course it would take the “data suppliers” out of the chain.


Marketing calls must be OPT-IN. The Telephone Preference Service is run by the Direct Marketing Association on behalf of companies selling products and services, so it is hardly surprising that we are in a mess.

I have already seen a marked reduction in the number of nuisance calls I receive, for which I am very grateful. Thanks to Which? and other organisations and individuals that have fought against nuisance calls.


Glad you’re seeing changes Wavechange. It was a joint win with our supporters, including you!


Surely if companies what to share my details then let them provide links to those companies where I can specifically request it per partner company.

I know I won’t be clicking on them.

Sharing data should be illegal, I should have to sign up for each company. should I wish.