Updated: Friday, 24th January 2020 @ 6:05pm

Nuisance call crackdown: Big companies ‘masquerade’ as little guys, claims Cheadle MP

Nuisance call crackdown: Big companies ‘masquerade’ as little guys, claims Cheadle MP

| By Nsofwa Kangwa

Major international companies need to stop hiding behind the names of small businesses to deceive unsuspecting victims of nuisance calls, claims a Cheadle MP.

MP Mark Hunter's comments come after the government’s nuisance calls task force formally announced its recommendations to help tackle the problem of unwanted calls and texts to members of the public.

Mr Hunter told MM that it was time for big cooperation’s to take responsibility of their behaviour and that senior executives shouldn’t have the positions to take advantage of having customer contact details.

He said: “There is a growing demand for the government to take appropriate action to put an end to this.

“I’ve raised it in the House of Commons and I’ve raised it on Prime Minister’s Question Time a few weeks ago with the PM directly."

The Cheadle MP who resigned from his post as the party’s deputy chief whip in October to focus on his constituency work, successfully managed to gather enough signatures, with the help of Hazel Grove MP Sir Andrew Stunell, to petition against nuisance calls – particularly for the elderly.

“The Cheadle parliamentary constituency has twice the national average of retired people living in it and they tend to be vulnerable and people’s lives have been played for quite a long time,” Hunter explained.

“I fear it is the older people who bear the brunt of this because the landline is very often their link to the outside world.

“They are going to answer it because they think it may be a loved one or an important call and increasingly the evidence is that they are unwanted sales calls being made.

“Ultimately if a company has got your number they need to understand that they should not be making those cold calls in that way.”

The task force, chaired by Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd was asked by the Government to review the way businesses obtain and use consumers’ consent to be contacted by phone and text for direct marketing.

A number of 15 recommendations will include making senior executives more responsible for the actions of their company and will focus on how organisations use consumer consent to carry out direct marketing activity, and to buy and sell potential customer leads.

Responding to the publication of last week’s report Steve Wood, ICO Head of Policy, said: “As part of the taskforce, our office has been keen to highlight the importance of organisations following good practice when collecting and using personal information for marketing purposes.

“We have published detailed guidance to help legitimate marketing companies stay on the right side of the law and we will continue to work with the industry and other regulators to improve compliance.

“We are also working with the government to enable our office to use our fining powers more effectively, so we can issue a penalty at an early stage where it is clear a company is knowingly making nuisance calls in breach of the law.”

Steve Wood’s comments came days after the ICO fined popular Manchester festival executives £70,000 after sending unsolicited marketing text messages from ‘mum’ to 70,000 people.

A move that left Park Life that in breach of regulations for disguising and concealing the identity of the person behind the marketing texts.

Head of ICO Enforcement, Steve Eckersley said: “This was a poorly thought out piece of marketing that didn’t appear to even try to follow the rules or consider the impact that their actions would have on the privacy of individuals.

“It made some people very upset in an attempt to sell tickets to a club night, and that is not acceptable.

“We would expect a company dealing with the details of as many customers as this to have a much better understanding of the law around marketing text messages.

“The fine sends a clear message that using this type of marketing is unacceptable."

He added: “Companies need to think about their responsibilities, the law and the consequences not only for their customers but to the general public before they introduce and act on any type of marketing ideas.” 

Image courtesy of Pete, with thanks.