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Telephone preference: get it right or else!

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So you think that being registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) is enough to prevent unwanted marketing calls….?  Think again!

It seems that some companies simply can’t help themselves. Despite the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) issuing fines amounting to over £1 million in 2015 and further warnings that companies making nuisance calls should expect more fines in 2016, companies continue to make unsolicited calls which contravene privacy regulations (the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003). Some people who are registered with the TPS are still receiving calls, sometimes in the middle of the night or in the early hours, by companies attempting to sell their products.

Just in the last week two companies have been issued with fines. Direct Security Marketing Ltd were issued with a £70,000 penalty after it made almost 40,000 automated nuisance calls, most of which were made between the hours of 1am and 6am in an attempt to sell security systems. The ICO received more than 1000 complaints of cold calling by Manchester based firm MyIML which resulted in a fine of £80,000. Most of those complainants had been registered with the TPS for the allotted 28 days and had not given prior consent to receive any calls.

It seems the ICO remains adamant that it will not tolerate the continual flouting of the privacy regulations. It confirmed at the beginning of the year that it had 90 ongoing investigations and a further one million pounds worth of fines in the pipeline.

So what should you do if you’re receiving unwanted calls or simply want to avoid them in the future? Well, registering with the TPS is certainly a start and costs nothing. Check the privacy statement of the company to which you are giving your phone number or tell the company that you do not wish to receive marketing calls. You could write to the company telling them that you think they are in breach of the regulations and, of course, keep a copy for your records! If none of that works, there is always the ICO.

And if you’re a company and you’re unsure as to whether or not you are complying with the privacy regulations or privacy law generally, please talk to me now in order to avoid receiving a substantial fine.