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Complaints relating to nuisance calls and texts totalled more than 180,000 in 2014/15, the ICO’s Annual Report has revealed.
The total of 180,188 complaints set a new record, with the figure representing a 12% rise on the previous year.
As a result of nuisance marketing complaints, five firms received fines totalling £386,000, while eight enforcement notices were issued. A further 31 firms were “monitored”, said the report.
The Information Commissioner hopes that, as a result of tougher laws brought in this April, the watchdog will be able to penalise more offending organisations in the future.
Previously the ICO had to prove that “substantial damage or distress” had been caused by communications, but it now only has to demonstrate that the company has made a serious breach of the law. The maximum fine that can be imposed on the heads of organisations found to be guilty of a breach has also been increased to £500,000.
The ICO also launched 13 cases investigating whether personal data had been illegally obtained or disclosed in 2014/15.
Commenting on the ICO’s Annual Report which showed that the regulator has received a record number of complaints about nuisance calls, CEO of National Accident Helpline, Russell Atkinson said:
“The findings of the ICO’s Annual Report highlight the scale of the problem of nuisance calls and we welcome their ongoing commitment to penalising rogue firms and stamping out bad practice. National Accident Helpline never cold calls, texts or emails and we have been campaigning on this issue since 2012.
“Independent research conducted by Populus and commissioned by National Accident Helpline revealed the extent of nuisance calls – with 40% of people receiving more than nine cold calls on their landline every month and 56% of people finding these calls distressing. Our research also found that 66% of people don’t know where to report cold calls and that 73% believe government should be doing more to address the problem.
“Effectively tackling this issue will require decisive action not only from Government and regulators but also individual businesses themselves, and National Accident Helpline is currently working with others in the personal injury sector to develop an industry-led initiative to eradicate this harmful practice for the benefit of consumers.”
Consumers can find advice and information on how to report nuisance calls to the ICO and Ofcom via the National Accident Helpline Stop Nuisance Calls campaign.
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