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ICO: what we’re doing about nuisance PPI calls

Phones being cut

Have you been nuisance called by claims management companies trying to get you to reclaim PPI? Here’s Steve Eckersley on what the ICO is doing to crack down on them.

Nuisance calls annoy most people, but in many cases they can leave individuals feeling distressed and frightened.

We’ve heard about companies that phone people in the middle of the night, ask to speak to deceased relatives or ring repeatedly after being asked to stop.

Regulating the law around marketing calls is one of the roles of the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

We listen to concerns raised by individuals about nuisance calls, provide advice to organisations and take enforcement action against those that break the rules.

Since the start of this year we’ve issued £930,000 in fines to companies which broke the law when making marketing calls.

PPI cold call fines

Calls relating to PPI claims account for a significant number of the concerns that people tell us about. In 2015, approximately 20% of the total number of concerns we received about unwanted live calls, automated calls and text messages were in relation to PPI. That’s 32,739 out of 166,663 of them.

We take action where we find PPI cold calls and texts have broken the law. Just last month we issued Swansea firm Falcon and Pointer with a £175,000 fine after it made millions of automated calls about PPI.

Pam, who recently commented here on Which? Conversation, has been affected by PPI calls among others:

‘I regularly get several calls per day. They are about PPI claims, or my computer needs fixing […] Today’s was from a “solicitor” about a car accident reported from my address – pretty strange since I live alone and haven’t driven for some years.

‘Some elderly people are becoming afraid to answer for fear of falling victim to one of the scams which are reported in the media every week. It needs to be stopped.’

What the law says

There are two types of marketing calls:

  • Live calls: unwanted marketing calls from a real person.
  • Automated calls: pre-recorded marketing messages that are played when you answer the phone.

Organisations are not allowed to make live marketing calls to people who have signed up to the Telephone Preference Service (TPS), unless individuals have given prior consent. In addition, organisations must not make calls to individuals who have previously said they don’t want those calls.

The rules on automated calls are stricter. Organisations can only make automated marketing calls to people who have specifically consented to receiving automated calls from them.

What can I do if I am receiving nuisance live marketing calls?

  • Tell the caller you don’t want to receive marketing calls from them. If the organisation continues to call you can report your concerns to us.
  • Register for free with the TPS, a list of people who have opted out of receiving live marketing calls. If you register with the TPS and continue to receive nuisance live marketing calls 28 days after registering, you can complain either directly to the TPS or report your concerns to us.
  • To avoid nuisance live calls you should check privacy statements when you provide your phone number.

What can I do if I am receiving nuisance automated calls?

By far our greatest allies in the war against the nuisance callers are the people who report them to us. You can report calls to us and other regulators using Which?’s nuisance call reporting tool.

Have you had nuisance calls about reclaiming PPI? Do you report them to the ICO?

This is a guest contribution by Steve Eckersley, Head of Enforcement at the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). All opinions are Stephen’s own, not necessarily those of Which?


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