26th Oct 2016
Company directors of firms making nuisance calls could face fines of up to £500,000, as part of a new government clampdown.
From spring 2017, the government will be amending the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations legislation to make directors liable for nuisance call fines.
Minister of State for Digital and Culture Matt Hancock described nuisance callers as “a blight on society”, warning of the distress they cause vulnerable people.
“We have been clear that we will not stand for this continued harassment, and this latest amendment to the law will strike another blow to those businesses and company bosses responsible,” he said.
There have been 114,000 calls reported to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) from January to the end of September this year.
And while the ICO has issued £2.7million in penalties since April 2015, £2.26million of these remain unpaid. In fact, out of 27 fines issued, just 6 have been paid fully, with some small firms choosing to liquidate to avoid payment.
Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham stated: “We are inundated with complaints from people who are left shaken and distressed by the intrusion on their daily lives.
“We’re quick to fine the companies responsible, but we’ve been speaking to the government about going further than that because we must do all we can to help protect people from these calls.
“Making directors responsible will stop them ducking away from fines by putting their company into liquidation. It will stop them leaving by the back door as the regulator comes through the front door.”
While the new fines have been introduced in order to curb nuisance calls, they are also a timely reminder for more scrupulous firms to protect the data they hold on their customers, and to avoid unnecessary contact with them.
“Customers are wary about the future, especially in terms of their economic, physical and cyber security,” warned Causon in The Institute of Customer Service’s Customer of the Future report.
“Many customers are concerned about how organisations collect and use personal information.”
The report found that by 2025, “customers will have a heightened awareness of the value of their personal data”.
“They will only offer it to organisations they trust,” the report says.
“There will be a greater requirement for organisations to demonstrate openness and transparency about how they store, manipulate and keep secure, customer data.”