The deluge of ‘cold calls’, which for the recipient means a sales-oriented call or sometimes just a dead line, is an irritant for millions in the UK. Since it is estimated that the average telephone owner appears on over 700 marketing databases, the absence of compliance with the rules applying to the making of cold calls, on the part of the marketers, has been a matter for regret for some time – especially as the number of cold calls made annually is in the region of 1.5 billion.
However, it appears that the Information Commissioner (IC) is about to get tough on some of the worst offenders. The IC's office has issued an enforcement notice requiring five firms to desist from calling individuals who have already expressly told them that they wish to be removed from their databases, or who have registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS).
If the firms fail to comply with the notice, they will be fined, and such fines are potentially unlimited.
If you are plagued with unwanted cold calls, here are steps you can take:
- Join the TPS. This is free and only takes a few minutes. It is unlawful for companies to make cold calls to members of the TPS and they should vet their databases against the TPS list. An online application can be found at http://www.tpsonline.org.uk/tps/.
- If you receive a call, insist that the company does not call you again. They must comply if asked and requesting that you telephone another number in order to arrange this is not acceptable; and
- Complain. The Information Commissioner’s Office has an online complaint form at http://www.ico.gov.uk/complaints/privacy_and_electronic_communications.aspx.