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Cold Calling and the Law

By: Jack Claridge - Updated: 23 Mar 2015 | comments*Discuss
Communications Expert

Many people - and indeed companies - are unaware of the recent changes in the law regarding the making of what are referred to as 'cold calls' - here we look at these recent changes and examine what you -as a customer - can do to stop these calls being made.

The Telephone Preference Service (TPS)

The Telephone Preference Service (TPS) is the most effective way in which to reduce the number of 'cold calls' you receive. The principal of this service is simple; registering for the service enables the Telephone Preference Service to add your details to their database which is regularly shared among companies who request marketing information for potential customers. If your details are on this database then the companies holding your details must remove them thus preventing further calls being placed to you.

Continued calls after your details have been entered onto the Telephone Preference Service's databases can result in hefty fines for the companies at fault.

Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003

These rules and regulations were laid down -and are being amended continually - in order to reduce the number of cold calls, unsolicited faxes and electronic mails that are sent in the United Kingdom each year.

These regulations state that calls should not be made to anyone registered for the aforementioned Telephone Preference Service (TPS) or to anyone who has previously requested that this does not happen. In essence the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations are there to enforce the rules of the Telephone Preference Service (TPS).

Also these regulations are in place to reduce the amount of unsolicited faxes and electronic mails that are sent out to potential customers - again individuals who have previously refused to receive such information may make a formal complaint based on the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003.


If a company has been in receipt of complaints regarding their cold calling and direct marketing but have refused to act upon these complaints then it falls to both the Information Commissioner and OFCOM to enforce such rulings. This involves having the company in question sign an undertaking that in effect prevents them from continuing with the practices that have brought them to the attention of these two bodies.

An enforcement is a legal and binding agreement and as such these documents are made public and can be found on both the Information Commissioner and OFCOM's websites. This allows the public to see who has received an enforcement and why; it also allows for the general public to establish if they are the victim of a company that has already been penalised for carrying out such a practice.

If a company is found to continue with these practices after having enforcement's made against them then the Information Commissioner and OFCOM may consider taking said companies to court in order to prevent these practices from continuing further.

This invariably means a fine and a court judgement are handed down with the company being required by law to make all necessary changes to their working practices and comply with the wishes of all individuals - either private customers or other businesses. Again if this ruling is ignored the Information Commissioner and OFCOM can call for harsher penalties to be handed down.

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@Bilsey - according to Ofcom, while companies and organisations are allowed to make live telesales calls, they cannot call the person again if the caller has been told previously they do not wish to recieve calls. Please see Ofcom link here for more details. I hope this helps.
CommunicationsExpert - 26-Mar-15 @ 1:46 PM
I work in telesales as a cold caller and my cousin tells me that this is now against the law and that I could incur a hefty fine.I am calling people in their own homes to make appointments for selling solar panels.I have mentioned it to my employer, who tells me that it is only automated calls that are against the law.I would really appreciate it if anyone can tell me where I stand on this.
Bilsey - 23-Mar-15 @ 11:04 PM
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