05Sep

Data protection watchdog the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has reported a sharp increase in the numbers of people contacting it regarding concerns over nuisance calls. The ICO says it received 11,824 such reports in July 2018, which was 927 higher than the number of reports made in June 2018, representing a 9% increase from one month to the next. The overall total is also the highest monthly figure since February 2017. The ICO suggests that “increased public awareness of the ICO” and recent media coverage of ICO enforcement action may be behind the increase.

Only one firm was fined in July over nuisance calls or texts – this firm received a £100,000 penalty after making some 75,649 nuisance calls. However, 13 information service providers were issued with “information notices” during the month, which legally compel them to provide information to the ICO to assist with its investigations. Another 107 cases are said to be under investigation.

Breaking down the data, the report goes on to reveal that 5,973 (around 50%) of the reported concerns related to automated calls. Here the number of contacts rose by 733, or 14%, from June to July.

Accident claims still account for more than a quarter of the automated call complaints, and it remains the area with the highest total, even though the number of concerns in this area actually fell in July, when compared to June. Energy saving and home improvements accounted for almost as many contacts as accident claims, and here there was a rise of some 52% when compared to June. Complaints about automated calls relating to TV and telecoms services rose by 74%, making it the third most complained about area; and although the overall total remains small, contacts about payday loan-related automated calls more than doubled.

4,521 of the concerns about nuisance calls, texts and emails were submitted via the Telephone Preference Service (TPS). Only 60 of the concerns reported during July related to spam emails, and this is the lowest monthly total so far in 2018.

Finally, the monthly report names five firms that the ICO has concerns about in this area. The data protection watchdog says it is “monitoring” these firms.

The ICO has repeatedly explained the law that relates to marketing calls and texts. Marketing calls cannot be made to people who are TPS registered, and automated calls and texts can only be made to people who have explicitly consented in advance to receiving these types of communications. Plans to allow the ICO to fine individual directors of nuisance call firms up to £500,000 have been delayed, with the latest Government consultation on the issue closing in August of this year.

The information shown in this article was correct at the time of publication. Articles are not routinely reviewed and as such are not updated. Please be aware the facts, circumstances or legal position may change after publication of the article