Preventing and complaining about nuisance calls and Ofcom’s record fine

Ofcom fines companies

Record fine for firm behind nearly 100 million nuisance calls

A company behind 99.5million nuisance calls has been fined a record £400,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

Keurboom Communications Ltd, a company behind 99.5 million nuisance calls has been issued the ICO’s highest ever nuisance calls fine after more than 1,000 people complained about recorded (also known as automated – calls). £400,000

The calls, made over an 18 month period, related to a wide range of subjects including road traffic accident claims and PPI compensation. Some people received repeat calls, sometimes on the same day and during unsociable hours. The company also hid its identity, making it harder for people to complain.

Companies can only make automated marketing calls to people if they have their specific consent. Keurboom did not have consent so was in breach of the law.

Steve Eckerlsey, Head of Enforcement at the ICO said: “Keurboom showed scant regard for the rules, causing upset and distress to people unfortunate enough to be on the receiving end of one its 100million calls. “The unprecedented scale of its campaign and Keurboom’s failure to co-operate with our investigation has resulted in the largest fine issued by the Information Commissioner for nuisance calls.”

During the investigation, the ICO issued seven information notices ordering the company, which is registered in Dunstable, Bedfordshire, to provide information to the regulator. When it failed to comply, Keurboom Communications Ltd and its director, Gregory Rudd, were prosecuted and fined at Luton Magistrates’ Court in April 2016.

Following the ICO’s investigation, Keurboom Communications Ltd has been placed in voluntary liquidation. The ICO is committed to recovering the fine by working with the liquidator and insolvency practitioners.

The ICO’s powers will be further strengthened when the government introduces a new law allowing it to fine the company directors behind nuisance call firms. Making directors responsible will stop them avoiding fines by putting their company into liquidation.

In 2016/17, the ICO had its busiest year for nuisance calls issuing 23 companies a total of £1.923 million for nuisance marketing.

The previous record nuisance call fine was in February 2016, when the ICO fined Prodial, a lead generation company, £350,000 for making 46 million nuisance calls.

So what can you do to prevent and deal with nuisance calls?

Sign up for TPS. The Telephone Preference Service. You can register both your landline and mobile numbers. It doesn’t stop them all but it certainly reduces it. As for the ones it doesn’t stop, report them. It is the law that companies must check names and numbers against the TPS register so they are breaking the law if you are registered and they contact you. Allow 28 days for it to be all registered. TPS is not able to enforce the law or fine, but does pass the information onto the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

If you have consented to receive marketing calls then you will still get these even if you are registered with TPS. Watch out for comparison and other sites and make sure that box is unchecked for wanting marketing emails.

For silent and abandoned calls, (frequently caused by automated systems dropping calls as soon as one is answered) contact Ofcom. Abandoned calls are where you hear a recorded message and there is a standard form online to report these calls. Ofcom won’t take action on individual complaints, however, once it gets a large number regarding the same company it will take action. In 2013 it fined Talk Talk £750,000 for an excessive number of silent and abandoned calls. So report these kinds of calls. The form is simple
and quick to fill out.

For unwanted marketing calls, contact the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). In May 2011 it was given powers to impose a fine up to £500,000 on companies who break the rules on unsolicited texts and phone calls.

All you need to know about complaining to telecom providers

How to complain about your telecom provider

Telecoms and Energy – the worst sectors. Dreadful. I get asked a lot about how best to complain in these sectors. I have therefore provided the links you might need below.

Broadband, Mobiles, line rental, packages

If you have taken out a line rental, broadband or mobile contract since 23 January 2014 under new Ofcom rules you can cancel their contract penalty-free if a provider ups its monthly prices mid-term and didn’t warn you about the rise when you signed up.

lap top on woman's knees phone in one hand

Your rights and your telecom provider

How to complain about broadband speeds/service interruptions

Mis-sold a contract? How to get out of it 

How to end 3 problems with your mobile ‘phone (& get your money back) – Faulty phone, network coverage, mis sold contract

All you need to know about roaming charges  – tips for before you go abroad and how to complain about charges

Mobile phone companies called out for overcharging loyal customers and how to call them out on it and get redress

It’s payback time for broken broadband  – Ofcom proposals for guaranteed payback on service breaches, companies sign up. BT, Sky, TalkTalk, Virgin Media and Zen Internet – currently serving around 90% of landline and broadband customers in the UK have signed up. The implementation period is set to be 15 months which takes us to February 2019.

Telecom providers in the news

Vodafone fined £4.6m for breaches of consumer protection laws

All you need to know when your phone/energy bill is wrong this was about the Vodafone fiasco with their billing system and provides advice about how to complain when your bill is wrong and provides other useful links.

Money Box Vodafone

EEnormous bills, Ofcom fine and how to complain about incorrect bills

Plusnet gets a “minus” – and a big fine – for incorrect billing billing ex customers

Virgin on the ridiculous – UKTV dropped. Your RIGHTS! Virgin changing your bundle your rights about this breach of contract! What you can do too if your provider changes your bundle.

More advice for complaining to telecom providers

First and most importantly Why you should write not ‘phone to complain effectively Telecom providers seem to make it difficult for you to email but read this post as to why it is important to write not ring.

How to take telecoms giants to task with our Consumer Fightback column: From price hikes to faulty mobile phones my column in ThisIsMoney.

Is social media an effective method for complaining? see this before you spend too much time tweeting the company.

Switching:

20 Top Tips for effective complaining

How to challenge terms & conditions (even those you’ve agreed) post giving you your rights

Terms & Conditions The One Show

Use ceoemail.com to find the email address of the company CEO and write to him or her particularly if the company doesn’t provide an email address for you to write to customer services!

See All you need to know to make a complaint about energy for similar on energy.

Which? survey 2019 airlines, telecoms and energy at the bottom for complaint handling

BBC Breakfast 23/08/19 Helen Dewdney discusses the Which? customer service survey

 

Cover of How to Complain updated 2019 large cow logo

 

How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results!  for more information advice, tips, consumer laws, rights, regulations, stories and template letters for complaining about the telecom and numerous other sectors.

 

 

 

If, after hours of reading that little lot you still need help then please see How The Complaining Cow can complain for you!

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Top 20 Tips for Complaining Effectively