The UK’s independent authority set up to uphold information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals.

Sales calls

Direct Marketing Calls

The number of concerns reported about sales calls, including live and automated calls, has increased over the first three months of the financial year, from 11,276 in April 2014, 13,500 in May to 15,890 in June. Concerns reported about calls are at their highest levels since April 2013.

Automated calls are the most complained about area.

The high levels of concerns reported are due to a significant increase in concerns reported about automated calls, and specifically automated calls relating to green-energy/home improvement topics. For example, we received just under 9,000 concerns relating to unwanted automated sales calls about boilers alone between April 2014 and June 2014. This increase is likely to be led by organisations taking advantage of media coverage in relation to the new government Green Deal Home Improvement Fund, launched on 1 June 2014. We will be working with relevant industry bodies within this area to to identify those companies which are breaching the regulations, and to take enforcement action.

On 30 May 2014 we asked for consumers’ help in reporting calls in relation to boilers, insulation and solar panels to support our ongoing enforcement work in this area. Publicity and increased awareness about our recent ‘Week of Action’ in May, around enforcement activity and guidance on the regulations, is also likely to have increased reporting.

Sales call concerns reported by month

Download in .csv format

Falls in the volumes of concerns reported to us correlate with our issuing of Civil Monetary Penalties (CMPs) to Tetrus (28 November 2012) and DM Design (20 March 2013).

Live calls

Live calls are unsolicited direct marketing calls received by consumers from a real live person.

We routinely analyse data collected from consumers and use it to identify organisations that cause us concern. We collect the data from concerns reported to the ICO and the Telephone Preference Service (TPS).

Live calls by topic by topic

Download in .csv format

Numbers of concerns about live calls have remained steady throughout the first quarter of the financial year (April to June), with 6,395 concerns reported in April 2014, 6,056 reported in May and 6,143 in June. However, concerns reported remain up on compared to the first three months of the year, with 13,155 concerns reported January to March 2014 and 18,594 reported from April to June 2014.

Accident claims, lifestyle surveys and computer scams are the most complained about topics. Where lifestyle surveys are conducted for genuine market research, they may not be subject to the regulations. However, very often they are used to generate sales leads, and therefore are subject to the rules. Computer scams may involve someone trying to gain access to your computer remotely to control it or steal sensitive information. These calls are not direct marketing, and we refer information to law enforcement agencies where we uncover instances of potential fraud or computer misuse.

We are now monitoring 12 organisations for compliance with the Privacy and Electronic Communication Regulations. We have also held 4 compliance meetings with some of those organisations to discuss how they can improve their compliance when engaged in direct marketing to consumers. Over the last year, the average reduction in complaints for those organisations which successfully negotiate ICO monitoring is over 70%.

The following companies are currently being monitored by the ICO because we have identified concerns about their compliance with the Regulations:

  • My IML Limited
  • Action 365 Limited
  • Enviroglaze Limited
  • Eolive Data and Media Limited
  • Midlands Claims Specialist Limited
  • Intello Limited
  • Cascade Financial Limited
  • CJ Electrical
  • Simply Outbound Limited
  • Zenith Staybright Limited
  • Solar Tech North East Limited
  • Direct Assist Limited

The following 5 companies have been removed from ICO monitoring because of improvements to complaints volumes or processes:

  • EE (Everything Everywhere) 
  • Assuranty Nationwide Limited 
  • AMS Nationwide Limited
  • Money Saver Telecom Limited
  • Fusion Media Solutions Limited

We are considering enforcement action against 6 organisations.

Assessment of organisations, April to June 2014

Improvement rating Description Name/ No. of organisations

Good improvements demonstrated.
Enforcement action unlikely to be required.

EE (Everything Everywhere);
Assuranty Nationwide Limited;
AMS Nationwide Limited;
Money Saver Telecom Limited;
Fusion Media Solutions Limited.

Concerns about compliance.
Enforcement action possible.

My IML Limited;
Action 365 Limited;
Enviroglaze Limited;
Eolive Data and Media Limited;
Midlands Claims Specialist Limited;
Intello Limited;
Cascade Financial Limited;
CJ Electrical;
Simply Outbound Limited;
Zenith Staybright Limited;
Solar Tech North East Limited;
Direct Assist Limited.

Risk of non-compliance.
Enforcement action under consideration.

3  x Home Improvements
1 x Claims Management Company
1 x Lead Generation

Automated calls

We routinely analyse data collected from consumers, and use it to identify organisations that cause us concern. We collect the data from the concerns raised by consumers using our online reporting tool.

Numbers of concerns reported about automated calls have increased every month since February 2014 and are at their highest level since April 2013. 9,747 concerns were reported in June 2014, with 7,444 in May and 4,881 in April.

Boilers, solar panels and insulation are the most complained about topics.

As mentioned above, the rise in concerns appears due to an increase in relation to green-energy/home improvement topics. For example, we received just under 9,000 concerns relating to unwanted automated sales calls about boilers alone between April 2014 and June 2014. This is likely to be led by companies taking advantage of media coverage in relation to the new government Green Deal Home Improvement Fund, launched on 1 June 2014. We will be working with relevant industry bodies within this area to identify those who breach the regulations, so that we can take enforcement action.

On 30 May 2014 we asked for consumers’ help in reporting calls in relation to boilers, insulation and solar panels to support our ongoing enforcement work in this area. Publicity and increased awareness about our recent ‘Week of Action’ in May, around enforcement activity and guidance on the regulations, is also likely to have increased reporting. 

Automated calls by topic

Download in .csv format

During this quarter (April to June 2014), we issued 85 third party information notices to telecommunications service providers, to try to identify a range of telephone numbers being used to cold call consumers.

We use third party information notices to try to identify the subscriber details of telephone numbers we believe have made unsolicited marketing calls to consumers. Often, where it is possible to identify the numbers, they link to overseas organisations and we make referrals to the appropriate regulatory authority, if there is one, in that country. As a result, in this quarter we have made four referrals to other European regulators via the Consumer Protection Cooperation mechanism, and made two referrals to the Federal Trade Commission in relation to suspected PECR breaches.

Read our advice about what to do if you have received unwanted sales calls

We published the above information on 30 July 2014. We plan to update it each quarter.