March 29, 2021
The ICO and Ofcom have outlined a joint plan for tackling nuisance and scam calls for 2021/2022. The ICO takes the lead on tackling live and recorded marketing calls and nuisance text messages and emails. It is responsible for taking enforcement action against organisations that breach the relevant rules. Ofcom leads on silent and abandoned calls and works collaboratively with the ICO, telecoms companies and other organisations, providing research and technical assistance as well as advice to consumers.
The ICO and Ofcom saw complaints about nuisance calls or messages decrease overall in 2020, however both also noted a surge in complaints from September/October to December 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. Ofcom saw an 83% increase in the number of complaints between October and December 2020 compared with the same months in 2019. Similarly, the ICO saw a 27% rise in complaints between September and December 2020 compared to the same months in the previous year. Since 2013, the ICO and Ofcom have published joint action plans to tackle the harm to consumers caused by nuisance calls and messages. In May 2020 the two regulators set their key areas of focus in tackling nuisance calls including:
· taking targeted action against people or companies that are not following the ICO’s and Ofcom’s rules;
· raising awareness of and tackling Coronavirus (Covid-19) scams and continuing to support the work of Stop Scams UK;
· working with telecoms companies to improve how they disrupt and prevent nuisance calls, by reviewing solutions made available to customers by their provider;
· working with other regulators and enforcement agencies to identify new opportunities to prevent nuisance calls and scams; and
· sharing intelligence with others, including international partners and enforcement agencies.
The action plan reports on the progress made in each of the areas over the last year.
In the year ahead, the ICO and Ofcom say that they will continue to take action on these five key areas and will publish an update on their progress in 2022. To access the action plan, click here.