Companies could be fined £500,000 for unsolicited sales calls

Annoyed woman on the phone

Companies that make unsolicited calls to people about matters such as personal injury claims or payment protection insurance could soon face fines of up to £500,000.

New powers that came into force recently will give consumers the choice to ‘opt-in’ to receive such calls.

Previously people had to ‘opt-out’ by registering with the free Telephone Preference Service or withdraw their consent while on the call.

However, the new powers will force the caller to make the necessary checks to make sure they have the recipient’s consent before calling.

Those offering unwanted claims management services could be fined as much as half a million pounds by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) if they breach the rules.

The Financial Conduct Authority highlighted that in the last 12 months, approximately 2.7 billion unsolicited calls, texts and emails were made to the UK adults offering to help them make a claim. This includes calls about recent accidents or mis-sold PPI. This is equivalent to approximately 50 calls, texts or emails being made to every member of the adult population.

Consumers who receive nuisance calls can report it to the ICO who will investigate and take action against those responsible.

On top of this the government has also consulted on new measures to fine bosses of companies that plague people with unsolicited nuisance calls up to half a million pounds and make them personally liable if their firm breaks the law:

The government has also:

  • Introduced a measure in the Digital Economy Act 2017 to make it a requirement for the Information Commissioner to issue a statutory code of practice on direct marketing;
  • Amended the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) to require all direct marketing callers to provide Caller Line Identification;
  • Lowered the legal threshold at which the ICO may impose a monetary penalty on organisations breaching PECR (a previous requirement to prove that the call caused alarm or distress was removed);
  • Made it easier for the ICO to more effectively share information with Ofcom in relation to nuisance calls through an amendment to the Communications Act 2003;
  • Given the ICO the power to issue monetary penalty notices up to £500,000 for serious breaches of PECR;
  • Introduced a ban on cold calling in relation to claims management services through the Financial Claims and Guidance Act 2018, except where the receiver has consented to such calls being made to them. The 2018 Act also includes powers to ban cold calls from pension providers; and
  • Given £500,000 to Trading Standards to help install call blocking devices installed in the homes of vulnerable people.

The government say the new measures, together with the strengthened Data Protection Act, should slash the number of nuisance calls received by consumers.