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Nuisance call bosses to face fines of up to £500k

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Written by: Paloma Kubiak
24/10/2016
The government is to step up its fight against nuisance calls and texts by imposing fines on company bosses not just firms.

From Spring 2017, company bosses can each be fined up to £500,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) if they break the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations, the Department for Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) said.

If there are multiple directors, each could be liable for the fine and DCMS confirmed to YourMoney.com that the fines will also apply to directors behind ‘distressing’ nuisance e-mail and text messages, not just calls.

Currently, businesses are liable for fines and many have tried to escape the penalties by declaring bankruptcy, only to open a new nuisance call business under a different name.

Minister of State for Digital and Culture, Matt Hancock, said: “Nuisance callers are a blight on society, causing significant distress to elderly and vulnerable people. We have been clear that we will not stand for this continued harassment, and this latest amendment to the law will strike another blow to those businesses and company bosses responsible.

“This tough new stance is just one of a number of measures introduced by government in its ongoing campaign against nuisance callers and work to better protect the personal data of UK citizens. These have included forcing companies to display their caller ID and working with Trading Standards to provide call blocking devices to vulnerable members of society.”

To date, the ICO has issued fines totalling almost £3.7m to companies behind nuisance marketing and this year alone, it has fined firms responsible for more than 70 million calls and nearly 8 million spam text messages.

More than 114,000 nuisance calls and texts have been reported to the ICO this year. To report a nuisance call, visit www.ico.org.uk or call their helpline – 0303 123 1113.

Other ways to protect against nuisance calls

As well as registering with the Telephone Preference Service, here are other ways you can tackle nuisance calls and messages:

  • Be careful who you give your contact details to, whether it’s online, on the phone, or in person.
  • Look carefully at any marketing ‘opt-in’ and ‘opt-out’ boxes. These boxes are often buried in the small print. If you don’t pay attention to them, you could find yourself inadvertently agreeing to be contacted by companies you don’t recognise.
  • If someone rings and asks for financial information over the phone, such as your account details or PIN, don’t provide it.
  • Talk to your phone provider to see what privacy services are available, and consider a call-blocker – though be aware, you may need to pay for these services. Last month, Vodafone announced it had installed barring technology across the network to cut nuisance and fraudulent calls.
  • If you receive a nuisance call or message, make a complaint. If the call is a live telesales call, an automated marketing message, or a spam text message, complain to the Information Commissioner’s Office. You can report spam texts to your mobile network operator by simply forwarding the text to 7726 (it spells out spam). If you receive a silent or abandoned call, complain to Ofcom.

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