Moves to tighten up on nuisance telephone calling

Moray MP is to support action against nuisance telephone calls.
Moray MP is to support action against nuisance telephone calls.

THE LEVEL OF UNSOLICITED Telephone calls being received by people in Moray has prompted local MP Angus Robertson to get behind a new bid to change the law on nuisance calls.

Complaints from constituents and the many problems they face as a result of unsolicited telephone calls will see Mr Robertson backing a bill being put forward at Westminster by his SNP colleague Patricia Gibson.

The MP has noted how extremely intrusive the calls can be – and how they often lead vulnerable people feeling pressured into buying things they do not need.

Patricia Gibson MP has presented ‘The Unsolicited Marketing Communications (Company Directors) Bill’, which proposes to hold company bosses personally responsible for nuisance calls, by giving the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) the power to take action against the named Directors of companies found to have made unsolicited marketing calls in breach of the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003.

Currently the ICO only has the power to impose fines on companies rather than their directors, enabling directors to escape paying the fines by closing down the company and setting up a new one – a practice known as “phoenixing”.

Of the 22 companies that have had fines imposed by the ICO since 2015 only six have paid or partially paid the fine, while the remaining sixteen have not paid the fines at all or have gone into liquidation.

In June the Scottish Government held the first ever summit on tackling the issue of nuisance calls, bringing together regulators, consumer groups and industry representatives to clamp down on the problem.

The SNP government will continue to take action using the consumer powers available and will establish a taskforce focusing on practical ways of empowering and protecting consumers.

Mr Robertson said: “Nuisance calls plague many people in Moray every single day and millions of people across the country every year. It is simply wrong that rogue companies are able to avoid paying the penalty for their unlawful actions.

“At best nuisance calls can be an irritant; at worst they can be a blight on the lives of some of the most vulnerable in society with people being pressured into spending their savings or even using credit to buy something they do not need.

“If passed Patricia Gibson’s bill would hold company bosses personally liable for fines imposed for unsolicited marketing calls – elevating the issue of nuisance calls to the boardroom and ensuring that these companies cannot escape responsibility by going into liquidation.

“If the UK government is serious about tackling the practice of cold-calling it should back this SNP bill and give the ICO the powers needed to pursue unpaid fines. This would benefit the taxpayer and act as a strong deterrent to firms engaging in this practice.

“Most importantly it would offer consumers the protection they deserve from unscrupulous marketing companies.”

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