Eight in ten people agree with our proposal to hold company directors personally accountable for nuisance phone calls. And it’s now more clear than ever why this is necessary.
Not so long ago I was in the middle of submitting an essay for a course I’ve been doing – I had 15 minutes to the deadline and was feeling a little flustered to say the least. And of course, my phone rang.
I looked down and saw it was an unknown number. I answered, and the person at the other end of the phone opened with ‘hello, I heard you’ve just been in a car accident and need to claim on your insurance?’ My reply? ‘I’m pretty sure I wasn’t, especially as I don’t own a car.’
The next sound I heard was the click of the person on the other end disconnecting.
Nuisance calls: top annoyance
It was no more than 30 seconds of my time, but with a deadline looming over me, it was incredibly annoying. And I know I’m not alone – I’ve read so many stories from people like you here on Which? Conversation. In fact, our latest research shows that eight in ten people with a home landline was called by a nuisance caller in May 2016.
I’ve now registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) to try and fight back. Lots of people have been doing the same, yet only 5% of the people we asked have complained to an independent body about unsolicited calls or texts in the last 12 months. Why? The main reason is that they don’t think the calls or texts would reduce or that complaining wouldn’t do any good. However, we know that reporting nuisance calls can lead to significant fines from the Information Commissioners’ Office (ICO). The question is whether this is enough.
What we’ve done so far
We want to see company directors personally held to account if their company is found to be nuisance calling. This is backed by the public, with eight in ten people agreeing that such a move would be welcome.
Following our campaign to call time on nuisance calls, the Government and regulators have taken a number of actions to tackle this scourge such as mandatory caller ID and tougher fines from the ICO.
Why this doesn’t go far enough
However, of the 22 fines issued against companies since April 2015, only four have been paid in full. Two have been part-paid, and the remaining fines have not been paid at all, or the companies have gone bust.
That’s why we’re calling on the Government to introduce tougher action. Director level accountability should be introduced immediately to compliment the ICO’s existing powers. This will stop rogues stepping around the rules by closing one business and re-establishing another just to avoid the ICO’s fines.
Do you agree with our call for directors to be held personally accountable for nuisance calls? Tell me what you think in the comments and vote in our poll.
Update: 25 October 2017
A call for action on nuisance calls took one step closer to becoming reality last night.
In the House of Lords, Peers voted 253 to 205, a majority of 48, in favour of a cross-party amendment that would see unsolicited calls banned.
The vote demonstrates a desire to protect the most vulnerable in society from these nuisance calls, described by one Lord as an ‘omnipresent menace’, that can prove harmful in a number of ways.
The government failed to win over critics by promising a future ban on such calls from claims management companies who cold call members of the public about pensions.
However, supporters of the Financial Guidance and Claims Bill amendment want more immediate action given this growing problem.
We’re encouraged that Peers are pushing for action on nuisance calls and now it’s time for the government to step up and tackle the issue.
How do you feel about this news? Do you want to see more commitment from the government on the issues on nuisance calls?