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Brits Look to Fine Cold Callers Who Don't ID Their Numbers

January 13, 2016
By Michael Guta - Contributing Writer

In the U.S., the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA) and a latter amendment to the Act, the National Do Not Call Registry, gave consumers protection and control as to who can call them in their home. In the U.K., the version of the Do not Call Registry is called the Telephone Preference Service (TPS), which is funded by the marketing industry. The fox guarding the hen house might come to mind, but the system that is in place seems to be working fine. However, more than 14,000 monthly complaints made about nuisance calls has led government officials to pass a new law that would fine marketing calls from an anonymous or false number.

Not known for mincing words, the Brits say it like it is when it comes to getting their point across, and Baroness Neville-Rolfe, the minister for data protection, didn’t disappoint as she told The Sunday Telegraph: “Being pestered by marketing calls is annoying at the best of times and at its worst it can bring real misery for the people on the receiving end.”

With close to 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 being carried out in the U.K., targeting consumers every year, new rules were in order.

According to official figures cited by the paper, one in five direct marketing calls come from an anonymous or false number, and the new plan looks to levy some hefty fines if they don’t identify themselves. Companies that don’t comply with the new rule will face fines up to £500,000 or $726,472.

As reported in The Sunday Telegraph, the new rule is as follows:

“Direct marketing callers will have to provide a valid caller identity that shows up on phone displays when they ring. This will help the Information Commissioner’s Office in dealing with complaints.”

Just as in the U.S. where the FCC (News - Alert) has been levying some very large fines, the Information Commissioner’s Office has exacted more than a million pounds or $1,453,440 in 2015. This includes everything from spam texts, selling customer information, and cold calls with false claims.

Neville-Rolfe went on to say, “Companies are already being financially punished when they blatantly flout the rules, and mandatory caller ID is just another step we are taking as part of a closely coordinated effort with regulators, industry and consumer groups to tackle the problem.”

The plan which will be announced soon will force British companies with call centers based in the U.K. and overseas to clearly identify themselves through the caller ID.

Edited by Rory J. Thompson