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Government vows to tackle cold callers

Ed Vaizey has set out the government’s stance on how to tackle cold calls, and the Nuisance Calls Task Force’s recommendations for dealing with cold callers in a piece on the Which website.

We don’t know about you, but the amount of cold calls (particularly those of the pre-recorded automatic variety) reaching our phone has hit ridiculous new heights this year, and the timing of those messages has become more intrusive. Calls at times like 21:00 in the evening are more prevalent, as are messages coming through at the weekend.

And of course, there’s the menace in some of these cold calls which are effectively scams targeting the unwary or elderly – such as the old “Mr Smith, we’ve found a virus on your Windows computer” chestnut. (Our constant answer to that one: “That’s strange, I’ve got a Mac…”).

So what’s the government planning to do? Vaizey noted that in July of this year, they made it easier for Ofcom to share the details of organisations breaking cold calling regulations with the ICO, and for cold callers to be forced to use their Caller Line Identification number (so no more anonymous caller unknown, in other words).

Furthermore, the possibility of blocking calls at a network level is being explored, and a Department for Culture, Media & Sport consultation has been published revolving around the idea of lowering (or even removing) the legal requirement of ‘substantial damage or substantial distress’ being caused by a call before the company making it could be fined up to £500,000.

All of these are certainly sensible moves, and Vaizey concludes with the news that tonight there’ll be a reception (hosted by Which) to launch the Nuisance Calls Task Force report, which puts forward no less than 15 recommendations, for one thing aiming to make the revoking of a person’s consent to be contacted easier. Again, it all sounds like good, positive stuff, and let’s hope something concrete comes of it.