On 16 May it will be a legal requirement for companies to provide a valid number when they call you. Here’s Baroness Neville-Rolfe to explain why.
Nuisance calls are irritating. So irritating in fact that nearly 170,000 complaints were made to the regulator – the Information Commissioner’s Office – on this issue last year alone.
We’ve already made it easier for rogue companies to be fined by reducing the need for the regulator to prove that substantial damage and distress has been caused by the calls. We’re also spending £1/2 million to provide call-blocking devices to vulnerable people.
Isolated and desperate
But this phenomenon can be far worse than a nuisance. In some cases people are being bombarded with confusing or aggressive calls. Some are conned into handing over money and others feel forced to unplug their phone.
This is maddening under the best of circumstances, but the phone is some people’s only form of communication, so they can be left totally isolated, desperate and at risk.
This has to stop.
Mandatory caller display
That’s why the Government is changing the law. Companies that make cold calls will have to show caller identification.
That means you can refuse to pick up a call if you don’t recognise the number. And if a company harasses you, you can take down their number and report them to the Information Commissioner’s Office. It can hit offenders with fines of up to £500,000. You can also report offenders to Ofcom, which can impose fines of up to £2m.
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.
Nuisance calls are a serious issue, which is why we have taken serious action
This is a guest contribution by Baroness Neville-Rolfe, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State and Minister for Intellectual Property. All opinions are her own, not necessarily those of Which?