Nuisance calls ban: People must now opt in to receive PPI and accident telephone contact from cold-calling firms

Companies can be fined up to half a million pounds for violating new rules 

Lizzie Dearden
Home Affairs Correspondent
Saturday 08 September 2018 13:59 BST
British adults have received 2.7 billion unsolicited calls, texts and emails in the past year
British adults have received 2.7 billion unsolicited calls, texts and emails in the past year (Corbis)

People must now opt in to receive nuisance calls on PPI and personal injury claims as part of a government crackdown on the “menace”.

Companies that continue to make unsolicited calls in violation of the new rules will be fined up to £500,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office.

People previously had to opt out of the communications by registering with the free Telephone Preference Service or withdrawing consent from each company individually.

But the new powers will force firms to ensure they have the recipient’s consent before calling.

British adults have received 2.7 billion unsolicited calls, texts and emails offering to help them make a claim in the past year, the Financial Conduct Authority found – an average of 50 per person.

They include calls claiming people have had recent road accidents and bought mis-sold payment protection insurance (PPI).

Margot James, the minister for digital, said the new rules brought authorities “one step closer to ending the menace of nuisance calls”.

“This is a big boost for the Information Commissioner’s Office and will help them crack down on the cold call sharks,” she added.

“Individuals will be able to opt in to receiving these calls by consenting to be contacted by claims companies when enquiring about settling a claim, or when seeking claims advice.

“These new measures together with the strengthened Data Protection Act, will curb the number of nuisance calls received by consumers.”

Anyone receiving unwanted calls can report them to the Information Commissioner’s Office for investigation.

Andy Curry, enforcement manager at the watchdog, said cold calls texts and emails “can cause real distress to people”.

“This amendment to the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations will increase our ability to take action against those companies who deliberately flout the law and cause real upset and harm,” he added.

Previous changes made it easier for regulators to fine those breaching direct marketing rules, force companies to display their number when calling customers and increase fines for wrongdoers.

The government has also consulted on new measures to make the managers of companies that plague people with unsolicited nuisance calls personally liable for breaking the law and subject to fines of up to half a million pounds.

Alex Neill, Which? managing director of home products and services, said: “Nuisance calls have plagued millions for years and our research revealed more than seven in 10 believe that they received unsolicited calls last month.

“While the new rules are welcome, they must be enforced to stop companies flouting the law with these dodgy practices. The government must also urgently deliver on its promise to hold those responsible personally accountable.”

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