A new service has launched that gives consumers the right to opt out of receiving emails, telephone calls, texts and post from charities looking for donations.
The Fundraising Preference Service (FPS) can accept requests at fundraisingpreference.org.uk or over the phone on 0300 3033 517. You simply need to tell the service which charity or charities you no longer wish to hear from and those charities will have 28 days to remove you from their marketing lists.
You can choose up to three charities per request and if you don’t want to stop all communication with a charity, you can select which way you would prefer it to reach you – for example by post or email.
The new service marks the first birthday of the Fundraising Regulator, which was set up after a cross-party review of the self-regulation of charity fundraising which took place in the summer of 2015. Its aim was to identify what charities can do to rebuild trust amongst consumers who were frustrated by the volume of communications they receive.
In May 2015, 92-year old poppy seller Olive Cooke took her own life. Although she suffered depression and insomnia, a report from the Fundraising Standards Board at the time said she had become overwhelmed by the number of donation requests she was receiving from charities.
It said in one year alone, she received 466 letters from charities and her details were held by some 99 charities. Around 70% of those charities had acquired Mrs Cooke’s details by purchasing them from other organisations.
Stephen Dunmore, chief executive of the Fundraising Regulator says: “The FPS will give individuals unprecedented control of their contact with charities and will enable members of the public to manage their consent. This service is crucial in an age when individuals can be contacted in far more ways, and with far more regularity, than ever before.”
He adds: “The FPS will help further rebuild trust between members of the public and the charity sector. However it is not a silver bullet, progress is being made in how charities go about their fundraising, yet this is still much to be done.”
The FPS however cannot stop door-to-door callers or prevent communications from commercial organisations wishing to promote their goods or services. To protect yourself from this type of cold call, households need to register with the Telephone Preference Service at tpsonline.org.uk.
Plans to ban pension cold calls dropped
Yet while consumers are able to take to action to protect themselves from marketing calls from both charities and commercial organisations – attempts to protect them from scammers took a backwards step this week.
In last year’s Autumn Statement, the government announced plans for a ban on cold calls regarding pensions, following a massive increase in the level of criminal activity in this area since the introduction of pension freedoms in April 2015.
However, it has since emerged that the proposal has been dropped from the upcoming Financial Guidance and Claims Bill.
Commenting on the decision, Kate Smith, head of pensions at Aegon says: “It is hugely disappointing to see the government shy away from tackling an issue that has a disproportional impact on the most vulnerable in society. There is a certain irony too that this has been revealed during National Scams Awareness month.”
She adds: “Scammers are becoming more sophisticated and always finding new ways to target people's money, but tackling the prevalence of cold-calling is a simple step that could stamp out a lot of scammers’ underhanded tactics. With such widespread support for a cold calling ban it’s a shame it is not featured in the bill. The industry must continue to put pressure on the government to ensure that legislation is brought back to the House in good time and not simply kicked into the long grass.”
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