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Up to £2,000,000 fine for cold callers using withheld numbers

Direct Marketing companies who are registered in the UK will have the obligation to display their telephone number when making unexpected calls. The Office of Communications (OFCOM) have announced that they are dramatically increasing fines up to £2 million for companies that cold call without displaying their number. As well as increasing the fine, such companies could be potentially fined twice up to £500,000 by the Information Commissioners Office if they continue to bombard telephone numbers with unwanted calls.

This new plan will give people the power to decide whether or not they wish to answer or block the calls. The new plans also make it easier for customers to find out where the phone calls are coming from as they can identify the number and search it online.

Ofcom estimates that every year UK consumers receive approximately 4.8 billion nuisance calls, 1.7 billion live sales calls, 1.5 billion silent calls, 940 million recorded sales messages and 200 million abandoned calls.”

The above statement shows the message from the ICO and government are quite clear about their intentions. Unexpected calls from marketing companies withholding their numbers will not be tolerated, and the coming changes will make it easier for companies to be investigated and possibly prosecuted in the event of breaching the rules.

How will this new measure be enforced?

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport which is the pioneer of this new plan says the change will ensure the ICO can investigate any direct marketing company, and take the relevant action against companies who persistently break the rules.

If you continue to receive cold calls from withheld numbers you should ring 1471 to find the cold callers number, if hidden then record the time/day of the call and any other details and pass this over to the ICO by calling 0303 123 1113.

What are other ways to stop cold callers?

Is it illegal in the UK for a direct marking company to call you when you have indicated that you do not want to be contacted regarding sales calls. If you haven’t done, you can add your phone number to the Telephone Preference Service register. This adds your number to a list of numbers that disallow cold callers, it should take around a month for calls to stop once you had registered your number.

How does this effect you?

If you are a customer then you can expect less cold calls. In the event of a cold call their number should be displayed giving you the chance to block it or find out more information about the company.

If you are a direct marketing company then you must display your phone number from now on when making sales calls. If a customer tells you they aren’t interested then your calls must stop there or you could be prosecuted under the new ICO rulings.

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