Telemarketing agencies being clamped down on by ICO
The Telephone Preference Service is a service designed to prevent people from receiving unwanted telemarketing calls. All telemarketing agencies conducting telemarketing calls to British households need to comply with the regulations
ICO Clamps down on rogue telemarketers
The Information Commissioner's Office has toughened its stance on policing the Telephone Preference Service by issuing formal warnings to 7 companies to cease dialling Telephone Preference Service-registered phone numbers.
It said it the companies warned have failed to comply with informal requests, so it decided to change its approach from negotiation to enforcement. It's also looking at other cases and may issue warnings to more companies.
It has issued notices indicating its intention to serve a enforcement notice requiring the companies to comply with Regulation 21 of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations by ceasing marketing calls to people who have asked the company to stop calling them and/or who are registered with the TELEPHONE PREFERENCE SERVICE. If a company fails to comply with an enforcement notice, the Information Commissioner's Office is able to prosecute.
The notices were served in to 7 businesses: Toucan; CPW (CarPhone Warehouse) and its fixed-line sister company Talk Talk; and four home improvements companies who are very much interlinked-- Bowater Home Improvements, Staybrite Windows , Bowater Windows and Zenith Windows.
In the year ending July 2006, the INFORMATION COMMISSIONER'S OFFICE received: 67 complaints about Toucan; 46 about Carphone Warehouse and Talk Talk; and 31 regarding all of the companies in The Bowater group. The INFORMATION COMMISSIONER'S OFFICE said it has received responses from the companies and is now considering its next steps. There has been 39,941 complaints made to the TELEPHONE PREFERENCE SERVICE between the start of this year and the end of September, compared with 54,380 in the whole of 2005.
A spokesman for Carphone Warehouse said "TalkTalk fully adheres to the DPA and makes every attempt to screen all marketing calls against the Telephone Preference Service mailing list. We are working closely with the INFORMATION COMMISSIONER'S OFFICE in relation to these enquiries."
In reaction to the ICO's action Richard Webster, the Telemarketing Association's chairman, said: "It may be that the companies cited feel that they were legitimately allowed to phone these individuals (even though registered on TELEPHONE PREFERENCE SERVICE) because they were their customers or prospects. I would point out that as often happens, the easy targets are chosen rather than the hardened offenders, by which I mean that in this case, legitimate British companies can easily have enforcement notices served. Those responsible for the huge volume of calls to TELEPHONE PREFERENCE SERVICE numbers made from overseas remain untouchable".
As of August 2006, there were 13.3m phone numbers registered with the TELEPHONE PREFERENCE SERVICE.