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Thursday, July 2, 2015
Nuisance call complaints reach record high, says ICO
2 July 2015
From the section
The UK's Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) received a record number of complaints about nuisance calls in the past year.
The watchdog said 180,188 complaints about unwanted promotional calls and text messages had been made, up 11% from last year.
In its annual report, it said it had issued five fines relating to unsolicited calls and texts.
Consumer group Which? said the figures were the "tip of the iceberg".
The organisation said its research showed only 2% of people who received unwanted calls reported them.
"Regulators, government and industry must work harder to cut off unwanted calls and texts that annoy millions of us every day," said Richard Lloyd, executive director at Which?
The body is running a campaign to hold senior executives accountable for nuisance calls made by their companies.
It said the ICO should use its powers "to full effect", to punish companies that broke cold-calling rules.
The ICO told the BBC the rise in complaints could be attributed to its online reporting tool, which had been active for only two years.
Overall, the ICO issued more than £1m in fines in the last year.
In March, it fined the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) £180,000 after a witness in an investigation was mistakenly sent evidence relating to 64 other people involved in the case.
Other successful prosecutions included:
a pharmacist who unlawfully accessed the medical records of family members and colleagues
an employee of Transport for London who unlawfully accessed the Oyster travel card records of family members and neighbours
a company director who accessed one of EE's customer databases to promote his own telecoms services
The total number of complaints the ICO handled fell slightly compared with last year.
The organisation also collected slightly less in fines, although this meant there were fewer appeals against its rulings.
"The number of fines issued has almost halved, but the final amount paid to the ICO, after appeals, has only dropped by 13%," said Chris McIntosh, chief executive of data security firm ViaSat UK.
"I think the ICO is being smarter about the battles it picks. For an organisation that needs to consider its budget, it's a wise course of action."
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