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There's nothing worse than being bombarded with nuisance calls, and it looks as though the British public isn't standing for it any longer. Not only do the vast majority screen their calls to avoid those dreaded conversations, but the Government has stepped in to crack down on nuisance calling companies.
According to research from Debt Advisory Centre (DAC), 69% of those surveyed screen their phone calls, with 52% of those not answering calls from numbers they don't recognise. Calls from 0800 and 0870 numbers are instantly rejected by 28% of respondents, while a further 19% have barred certain numbers from their phone.
It may seem drastic, but when you consider how many nuisance calls you can get in the space of a week, it's understandable. It seems the annoyance of being hounded by sales calls is the key reason most consumers screen their calls before answering, with 82% doing so to avoid salespeople trying to sell them something.
However, for 8% of respondents, avoiding someone chasing payments is their main motivator, while 6% admit they avoid answering calls because they think the person ringing will have bad news to deliver.
Ian Williams, spokesman for DAC, says: "It is not that long ago that you didn't know who was ringing you until you picked up the phone. These days, smartphones and caller ID allow us to see who is calling – and as a result we are more than willing to check who's calling before deciding whether to answer."
Despite those with debt issues being understandably concerned about answering the phone, the vast majority simply want to avoid being bothered by sales calls. Happily, the Government agrees that this kind of thing is unacceptable, and is making it easier for the companies responsible to be hit with fines.
Currently, the law states that the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) must prove that a company caused 'substantial damage or substantial distress' by their conduct before action can be taken, but following a public consultation, this legal threshold is being removed. From 6 April, the ICO will have the power to intervene in more cases, meaning it'll be easier for firms making unwanted marketing calls and texts to be lumbered with fines of up to £500,000.
The measures could be further strengthened in the future, with the Government also confirming that it will look at introducing measures to hold board-level executives responsible for nuisance calls and texts. Hopefully, this would act as an even stronger deterrent, but in the meantime it's hoped that the ease of being fined will be enough of an incentive, ideally making nuisance calls a thing of the past – or at least a whole lot less frequent.
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