The Government has announced a crackdown on withheld numbers, making it a legal requirement for companies to provide a valid number when they call you. How many calls from withheld numbers do you get?
‘Withheld Number’. ‘No Caller Id’. ‘Unknown Number’.
How often do you see and hear these words on your home phone, mobile or when you dial 1471? (If you’re going out with Adele you probably have at least a thousand of these…)
Frustrating isn’t it?
Without knowing who’s calling you it makes it difficult to report the call as unwanted to the regulators, or to us.
Win for our campaign
Which is why the announcement from the Government today is such a significant step forward for our Calling Time on Nuisance campaign. The Government has announced that it will be a legal requirement for marketing callers to provide a valid phone number that can be displayed when they call you.
We’ve been calling for mandatory Caller Line Identification (CLI) since we launched our campaign, and it formed one of the recommendations in the Nuisance Calls Action Plan, so it’s a victory for all our supporters that the Government is taking action on this issue.
Marketing companies that don’t display their number will face heavy fines from the regulator – over £1.14 million in fines were imposed on firms last year for nuisance calls and texts.
Why is CLI important?
Caller ID is pretty important because, without it, it’s hard to know who’s calling you and that then makes it harder to report nuisance calls to the regulators. I think I get at least three of these a week with corresponding voicemail’s telling me I can make a claim for my ‘recent road accident’. (The fact that I haven’t driven for five years makes this all the more baffling).
We know that mandatory CLI won’t put an end to nuisance calls, but it will certainly help. It will help you spot nuisance calls (you can see the rundown of our top ten most reported numbers here) and therefore, make it easier for you to report them and action to be taken.
We believe that responsible businesses should have nothing to fear from telling people who is calling. In fact, three in ten people say they’d be more likely to think of a company positively if the company committed to showing their number when calling.
The six-week consultation closes on 23 February 2016, after which the Government plans to bring the measure into force in spring this year. We’ll continue to update you on the progress of mandatory CLI and will keep pushing the Government, businesses and regulators to cut nuisance calls off at the source and make senior executives personally accountable if their company makes unwanted calls.
In the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts on mandatory CLI – how many calls from withheld numbers do you get?
Update 24 April 2016 – Date set for new rules
The Government has now set a date for when direct marketing companies will be forced to display their phone numbers when making unsolicited calls – 16 May.
Baroness Neville Rolfe, minister responsible for data protection, said:
‘The Government is committed to tackling this problem, which is why we are making it easier for consumers to report companies by forcing them to display their phone numbers.
‘We’re sending a clear message to rogue direct marketing companies. Nuisance calls are unacceptable and we will not hesitate to take action against the companies behind them.’
This change to legislation will not only make it easier for you to refuse to answer a call from a number you don’t recognise, reporting unwanted calls will be simpler too. This should lead to the regulators fining more nuisance calling companies.