Watch out, er, 'oven cleaners': ICO plans nuisance call crackdown in 2016

‘The law is clear on what’s allowed’

The UK's Information Commissioner's Office is planning a further crackdown against nuisance call companies, with massive fines coming next year for transgressors.

The non-departmental, regulatory public body imposed more than a million pound's worth of penalties on those responsible for nuisance calls and text messages in 2015, with the same amount in the pipeline for early 2016.

The fines levied so far include: a £200,000 fine to a solar panel company that made six million calls, £295,000 in fines for companies offering call blocking or nuisance call prevention services, and a £80,000 fine to a PPI claims firm that sent 1.3 million text messages.

Andy Curry, ICO Enforcement Group Manager, commented: “Nuisance marketing calls frustrate people. The law is clear around what is allowed, and we’ve been clear that we will fine companies who don’t follow the law. That will continue in 2016. We’ve got 90 ongoing investigations, and ... fines in the pipeline.”

A total of £400,000 in fines for nuisance texts were imposed against various firms found responsible for oppressive marketing practices. And, a total of £575,000 in fines were applied for nuisance call offences.

These two classes of offences, together with a £130,000 fine for selling customer records for marketing against Pharmacy 2U Ltd, and a £30,000 fine for sending marketing email against Telegraph Media Group Ltd, brought the grand total for fines up to £1,135,000.

The ICO received around 170,000 complaints this year from people who’d received nuisance calls and texts, a similar number to the previous year (175,330).

PPI claims prompted the most complaints, followed by accident claims. Areas identified as growing sources of nuisance calls and texts included call blocking services, oven cleaning services, and industrial hearing injury claims.

One particular unscrupulous practice is persuading old and vulnerable people to pay for so-called nuisance call prevention services, often using cold-calling techniques. UK consumers can opt out of receiving telemarketing calls for free by registering with the Telephone Preference Service. ®

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