Government to crackdown on nuisance calls
Companies that bombard households with unwanted calls are facing a tough crackdown under plans unveiled by the government.
Culture secretary Maria Miller has announced a consultation on a number of new penalties aimed at curbing the amount of unwanted calls from claims management companies offering services such as PPI compensation.
Firms that use information gathered by nuisance and unsolicited calls could face fines of up to 20% of their annual turnover under the proposals, and the threshold at which the Information Commissioner's Office - the regulator responsible for unsolicited marketing calls - can take action could also be lowered.
Currently, the ICO can only take action if the calls cause "substantial stress or damage" but it has asked for this to be lowered so it can penalise firms if their calls cause "nuisance, annoyance, inconvenience or anxiety".
Between April and November last year, the ICO received 120,310 complaints regarding nuisance phone calls.
The action plan will also see Which? executive director Richard Lloyd, chair a taskforce to investigate how consumers give and withdraw consent to receive marketing calls.
He said: "Millions of consumers are bombarded by these calls, often because they weren't aware that their personal information might be used in third party marketing, so I'm delighted to be chairing a task force of experts to review how consumers give and withdraw their consent to be contacted.
Miller added: "Nuisance calls must stop. At best they are an irritation and an unwanted intrusion, at worst they cause real distress and fear, particularly to the elderly or housebound.
"People need to feel safe and secure in their homes. The rules are clear - people have the right to choose not to receive unsolicited marketing calls. We will work to ensure their choice is respected."
Payment protection insurance is designed to cover you should you fall ill, have an accident or lose your job and can’t make repayments on loans or credit cards. However, research by consumer watchdogs found the cover to be overpriced, filled with exclusions (policies exclude self-employment, contract employees and pre-existing medical conditions) and were often mis-sold because the exclusions were never fully explained. In May 2011, the High Court ruled banks had knowingly mis-sold PPI and ordered them to compensate around two million consumers.
Claims management companies
Regulated by the Claims Management Services Regulator since 2006, claims management companies offer advice and legal services in respect of claims for compensation, restitution, repayment for loss, damage or negligence. To many, the term is merely a polite euphemism for “no win, no fee” law companies. If you feel they offer services you need, approach with care.