A Leeds lawyer is considering the impact of legislation that will require direct marketing companies to display their telephone numbers when making unsolicited calls.
Ian Anderson, Head of Regulatory Law at leading law firm Ison Harrison says the new legislation due to come into force from May 16 will require firms registered in the UK to display their numbers, even if call centres are abroad.
The move is set to make it easier for recipients to note down the numbers and report the companies to the regulator. However, the law firm also says that many direct marketing businesses may fall foul of the legislation as they haven’t put adequate strategies in place.
The legislation’s introduction follows positive backing in a public consultation and extensive work with industry, regulators and consumer groups.
Ian Anderson of Ison Harrison said: “Unsolicited calls are an invasion of privacy and can be particularly distressing to elderly and vulnerable people. The companies behind the calls will have to consider how they evidence compliance with the new regulations and defend themselves against complaints. There needs to be a balance between stopping persistent and long-term automated nuisance callers and allowing companies to engage in direct marketing.
“Through the introduction of this legislation, the Government is without doubt sending a clear message to any rogue traders. The Government stance is that it will not hesitate to take action against companies who are subject to complaints.”
Companies withholding their identities or persistently breaking the rules can risk fines of up to £2 million from Ofcom and a further £500,000 from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) if they do not comply with the new regulations.
Ian said: “This change will make it easier for consumers to identify the legitimate companies and report the rogue operators to the relevant authorities. If a company is not doing anything wrong or is behaving responsibly then they should have nothing to fear, but should seek compliance advice.
“This amendment in legislation will not only improve consumer protection, making it easier for people to refuse and report unwanted marketing calls, but it will also ensure the ICO can investigate and take enforcement action against callers who persistently and deliberately break the rules.”
This latest move by Government follows news that a substantial number of fines totalling £895,000 have been issued by the ICO. In 2015, the Government made it easier to fine nuisance callers by removing the need for consumers to prove that unwanted marketing calls were causing substantial distress and damage.
Ian added: “Now that it is possible for people to identify the number behind the call they’ve received, they are more likely to complain and that means more businesses are likely to face investigation. Companies in this market need to take steps to ensure they comply, or potentially face financially crippling fines.”