TPS 'fails to stop nuisance calls'

Consumers registered with the Telephone Preference Service - the primary tool for avoiding telemarketing - still receive double the average number of nuisance calls of those who do not use it, according to a study.

The TPS is a free opt-out service for those who do not wish to receive telemarketing calls.

All UK companies making live marketing calls, except market research companies, are legally required to screen call lists against the TPS list to ensure subscribers are not contacted. But a survey by Which? found that those registered with TPS still receive on average double the number of unsolicited calls than those not signed up.

Although those registered with TPS reported a decrease in nuisance calls after signing up, they received on average 10 unsolicited calls in the last month compared with the average five for those not signed up.

The poll also found six in 10 TPS users (57%) are not satisfied with the service. More than eight in ten people (85%) received an unsolicited call in the last month, with 8% of these receiving 50 or more unwanted calls or more over the same period. Of those questioned, 62% had received calls about Payment Protection Insurance and almost half (48%) heard from accident claim companies.

Which?, whose Calling Time on Nuisance Calls and Texts campaign asked the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), the Ministry of Justice, Ofcom and the Office of Fair Trading to form a joint taskforce to tackle the problem, said the Government needed to lead a tougher approach. It is "demanding" that the Government steps in to strengthen the law on consent and the use of personal data to give regulators more powers to enforce the law, and to work with industry to provide technical solutions to filter out unwanted calls and texts.

Most complained about financial products

Most complained about financial products

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: "Consumers are sick and tired of being bombarded with nuisance calls and texts. The current system is failing the public and given the scale of this problem, it's time for the Government to step in. We urgently need to see a new approach, new laws and new technology to tackle this scourge on people's lives. People must be put back in control of their personal data."

John Mitchison, head of the TPS, said: "TPS registration stops unsolicited calls from law-abiding companies that check names against the TPS's 'do not call' list. However, it can't physically block calls from rogue companies that flout the law. We agree with Which? that further steps must be taken to stop nuisance calls. The legislation to support this already exists; companies breaking the law are liable to fines of hundreds of thousands of pounds. Government regulators need to enforce the law to punish those breaking the law, which would deter others from doing so."

An Ofcom spokesman said: "Ofcom takes firm action against companies who are in breach of the rules on abandoned and silent calls and we take this issue extremely seriously. Since last year, Ofcom has issued fines of more than £1.5 million to companies that break the rules."

A spokesman for the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) said: "The ICO would welcome any improvements that make it easier for us to stop consumers receiving unwanted marketing calls and texts. We've been working with the Government and other relevant organisations, including Which?, to look at how the law around consent might be improved to provide greater consumer protection."

10 things we hate about our banks

10 things we hate about our banks

More stories