Report it to sort it – that is the message from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) on robocalls.
Simon Entwisle, director of operations at the ICO, told the Gazette that robocalls – the automated messages that call you – account for a third of all the nuisance calls made in the UK.
Last month, 3,400 reports were made to the ICO about robocalls, down from a high of 20,000 last April.
Mr Entwisle said: “We use the information that the public provide us with to track down the people making the calls.
“We then call them in for an advisory visit to discuss concerns and see if it was a mistake or lack of understanding on the law or if it is deliberate.
“We have to give them the option to put it right.
“Most organisations respond positively and we have seen some big improvements from some organisations. But some don’t respond well and then we have to take further action.”
For companies to be fined, they have to show that the calls have caused ‘substantial damage or distress.’
However, a new action plan announced by the Government this week could change that (see story right).
But tracing calls can still be a problem.
“You can go back and trace calls and the important thing is to take a number if there is one,” he said. “If there isn’t one then it is more difficult, but if people note the time of the call then we might be able to trace it.
“To help themselves, people need to be careful with their telephone number. When there was the spate of late-night calls in Alnwick, it is not impossible that it is linked to something as simple as somebody entering a competition or filling in a questionnaire in the area.
“The main thing is that people report all nuisance calls to us, then we can look into them.
“People also need to be careful with services like the Telephone Preference Service, which is free, but other services charge.”
To join the Gazette’s Stop Nuisance Robocalls Campaign, sign our petition online at www. tinyurl.com/ne7xqj3