Sponsoring Bill to stop cold calls

Yesterday (24 April 2018) I sponsored a cross-party Ten Minute Rule Bill which would strengthen the laws around unsolicited calls.

It is estimated that some 70 million nuisance calls are made every year; this is a growing problem. A Which? survey estimated that 39% of calls in September 2016 were nuisance and that the volume of nuisance calls for some was astonishing, with 10% of people receiving more than 60 a month – that works out at two calls per day, on average.

New BT figures claim that every household in the UK receives four nuisance calls a day; as this is across 23 million households in the UK, it would indicate a figure of 5 billion nuisance calls a year.

It has been estimated that the UK-wide economic harm from scam calls comes to £3 billion; this was in a report published last month by the Scottish Government looking at the effectiveness of actions to reduce harm from nuisance calls.

The first part of this Bill will make directors of companies liable for the actions of their companies when they undertake nuisance calls. This will make the penalties more robust and widen the way in which they can be applied.

The second part of the Bill will tighten up the definition of nuisance calls. Currently the legislation is vague as it does not want to undermine legitimate business calls which are unexpected but may not be unwanted.

The final part of the Bill would place a general responsibility on unsolicited callers to ensure that the numbers they are dialling are not registered with the Telephone Preference Service: the service where you can take your telephone number out of directories.

The Bill passed its first stage and will now be read a second time on Friday 6 July 2018.

A large amount of people contact me on a weekly basis about the nuisance that is unsolicited calls. Many vulnerable people are preyed upon by unscrupulous businesses who are trying to scam people and make a quick profit before going bankrupt and dodging any culpability for their actions. This Bill would take the steps needed to stop businesses and individuals taking such action.

This is an industry which is estimated to cost the UK £3 billion. Resulting in the financial pain of losing savings in a scam, but just as importantly the emotional strain of fearing the never-ending ring of the phone.

I was proud to sponsor this cross-party Bill as it will make a real and noticeable difference to people’s lives. The UK Government has not made clear if it will support these sensible measures but I will continue to raise the issue with the ministers until their take positive action.

People plagued by nuisance calls should contact the Information Commissioners Office to report unsolicited calls. You can do so online at: https://ico.org.uk/concerns/nuisance-calls-and-messages/spam-texts-and-nuisance-calls/ or calling 030 123 1113. People should also sign up for the free Telephone Preference Service. This can be done online by visiting http://www.tpsonline.org.uk or calling 0345 070 0707.