10 November, 2015
In response to today’s record nuisance calls fine imposed by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), Peter Tutton, Head of Policy at StepChange Debt Charity, said:
“Nuisance calls are a serious problem that causes considerable anxiety and stress, so we are pleased that the ICO has identified such practices and is penalising the offenders. While this fine is welcome, there is still much more to be done.
“Our research shows that over half of British adults have been contacted by fee-charging debt management companies or marketers selling high-cost credit and this is still a real, everyday problem.
“The FCA now needs to move more quickly and bring forward its review of the rules on unsolicited real-time promotion of high-risk financial products. With increased power for regulators and a complete ban on unsolicited high-risk credit marketing calls, we can stop this harmful and unacceptable behaviour before it begins.”
StepChange Debt Charity has made a series of recommendations for improving protection from nuisance calls. These include:
- A ban on unsolicited calls offering high-risk credit products – we believe that allowing nuisance calls selling high-interest loans and fee-charging debt management services is harming vulnerable consumers.
- Switch the UK from an opt-out to an opt-in telephone preference service (TPS)
- Increase the powers of regulators to fine offenders per offence and ensure that the level of the fine is related to the seriousness of the offence
- Increase the ability of the watchdog to identify wrongdoing
- Increase the security offered to consumers considering a high-risk product offered over the telephone
- Introduce a “Frank for the UK” system, similar to the German one, where people can give out the number of an answering machine instead of their own which answers unwanted calls with a recorded message saying the customer does not want marketing calls.
Further details can be found in our Got Their Number report (pdf) and our response to Combatting Nuisance Calls and Texts report by Claire Milne MBE, of the London School of Economics (pdf).