Stepchange ups pressure on Government to tackle nuisance calls

Stepchange is increasing the pressure on government to act on nuisance calls after finding that 3.2 million UK consumers are scared to answer the phone as a result of unsolicited marketing calls.


The move comes as government and industry looks to develop initiatives to cut the volume of nuisance calls and spam text messages. This includes the introduction of a kitemark scheme that aims to ensure standards for telemarketers, as well as legislative measures being considered by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Stepchange claims the problem of nuisance calls is “out of hand”, with 39.6 million people believing more needs to be done to protect consumers from telemarketers. Some 26.3 million claim they have been contacted by marketers selling high-cost credit such as payday loans and 31.3 million say they have been contacted by fee-charging debt management companies.

The charity is calling for a number of changes, including increased power for regulators, a ban on unsolicited calls offering high-risk credit products and controls on aggressive debt collection. It also wants control of personal data handed back to the consumer so that they know who has their data and can stop it being passed to firms they don’t trust.

Direct marketing chiefs are now looking to reassure the public over telemarketing, with the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) set to launch the accreditation scheme, dubbed TPS Assured after self-regulatory body the Telephone Preference Service, on Thursday (31 October). It will be awarded to companies that demonstrate they are compliant with the requirements of the TPS.

The TPS is run by the DMA under license from Ofcom and enforced by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). It has almost 18 million people registered that have asked to be removed from prospect lists for telemarketers.

The DMA hopes the accreditation scheme will repair some of the reputational damage inflicted on telemarketers, especially after the ICO and Ofcom revealed they are reviewing the role and effectiveness of TPS. A recent study by consumer watchdog Which? found that those registered for the service receive more nuisance calls than those that are not.

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