By Adam Stevens, Team Manager.
Last week we wrote about the enforcement work the ICO carries out to help stop nuisance calls. From collaboration to court action, and notably cracking down with fines, we have lots of approaches to stop the nuisance.
But how do we identify who is behind the calls? In this blog we look at how intelligence, information and investigation help us lift the lid on the culprits.
Here are some of the ways we find out about those behind nuisance messages:
Our mystery shopping exercises involve us using mobile phones to sign up to websites and respond to adverts, monitoring the amount of texts, emails and calls received.
The projects help us find out more about how organisations are sharing data, information which aids our investigation and enforcement work.
The ICO has been working to make it easier for whistleblowers to report their employers to us if the company they work for is involved in nuisance messaging.
If you have information to share with us, please call our helpline and they will guide you through what we need.
The Telephone Preference Service (TPS)
Organisations are not allowed to make live marketing calls to people who have signed up to the TPS register, unless individuals have given prior consent.
You can telephone the TPS complaint service if you still receive nuisance calls from rogue companies ignoring this rule. The TPS puts these complaints together in a report which it sends to the ICO to aid our investigations.
Messages reported to “7726”
Unwanted text messages can be forwarded to 7726. The mobile phone networks then share this information with us.
Consumer groups and Trading Standards
The ICO works with organisations such as Trading Standards and the Citizens Advice to find out about companies breaking the rules around electronic communications.
We share advice with them to pass on to people who ask them for help and they pass information to us about possible culprits.
We regularly speak to other regulators such as Ofcom, the Claims Management Regulator, the Gambling Commission and the Financial Conduct Authority.
They share intelligence about possible nuisance callers with us to inform our investigations. We also speak regularly to others overseas, via groups such as the London Action Plan.
Whether it’s spam texts, telesales calls, pre-recorded marketing calls or unwanted emails; if you think an organisation is breaking the rules on electronic communications, we want to know.
And plenty of you do get in touch. We received around 170,000 concerns in 2015 from people who had been bothered by nuisance calls and texts. PPI claims prompted the most complaints, followed by accident claims.
As we showed last week, that information helps us to take action in a number of ways. In simple terms, people complaining helps us fine the companies responsible.
You can report your concerns via our online reporting tool at ico.org.uk/concerns or call our team on 0303 123 1113.
|Adam Stevens manages the Intelligence Hub within the Enforcement Department, which collects, analyses and disseminates information with the aim of guiding and supporting the ICO’s approach to regulatory action.|