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

Concerns about sales calls reported to the ICO for December (4,996) are down on November (7,761) and at their lowest level since October 2012. We believe it is a strong indication that the high public interest and concerted action by regulators, consumer and industry groups is having a deterrent effect. It is particularly encouraging as it is now much easier for the public to report concerns than before.  

There has been approximately a 84% reduction in this figure since March 2013 (31,663).

Automated calls is the most complained about area.

 
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Falls in the volumes of concerns reported to us correlate with our issuing of Civil Monetary Penalities (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).


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The top three subjects in live calls are: PPI reclaim, accident claims and energy/green energy. The ‘other’ category includes concerns where consumers have not specified what the call was about, or where it is about a topic not listed above such as boiler replacement or solar panels (which may also be reported as ‘energy/green energy’). We have revised the categories on our online reporting tool to improve the information we are able to collect, and will report on this in the next quarter. 

In the previous quarter (quarter 2) we had identified a number of companies for monitoring because of concerns about compliance:

  • Isisbyte Limited;
  • Buckley & Henshaw Ltd;
  • Becoming Green (UK) Limited;
  • CCS Advice;
  • The Hot House Roof Company;
  • Lead Performance Limited;
  • Bulldog Security Limited;
  • Money Made Simple; and
  • Absolute Solar & Wind.

We have decided to continue monitoring this company:

  • Absolute Solar & Wind

The following companies have been removed from monitoring because of improvements to complaints volumes:

  • Gregson & Brookes;
  • McDowall Media;
  • Energy Helpline.

The compliance of the other companies named is being reviewed.

We have identified five new companies for monitoring in this quarter because of concerns about their compliance. These companies are:

  • British Sky Broadcasting;
  • 247 Home Rescue Limited;
  • Chromevalue t/a Chitter Chatter;
  • Apple Panels limited t/a Apple Home Improvements;
  • Fusion Media.

In total we are monitoring 14 companies for compliance with the regulations.

Assessment of organisations, October to December 2013

Improvement rating Description Name/ No. of organisations

Good improvements demonstrated.
Enforcement action unlikely to be required.

Gregson & Brookes
McDowall Media
Energy Helpline

Concerns about compliance.
Enforcement action possible.

Isisbyte Limited;
Buckley & Henshaw Ltd;
Becoming Green (UK) Limited;
CCS Advice;
The Hot House Roof Company;
Lead Performance Limited;
Bulldog Security Limited;
Money Made Simple;
Absolute Solar & Wind;
British Sky Broadcasting;
247 Home Rescue Limited;
Chromevalue t/a Chitter Chatter;
Apple Panels limited t/a Apple Home Improvements;
Fusion Media.

Risk of non-compliance.
Enforcement action under consideration.

1 x lead generation;
1 x domestic appliances.

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.

The top three subjects in automated calls are: PPI, debt management, and energy/green energy.

The ‘other’ category includes concerns where consumers have not specified what the call was about, where the call was silent or where it is about a topic not listed such as boiler replacement or solar panels (which may also be reported as ‘energy/green energy’). We have revised the categories on our online reporting tool to improve the information we are able to collect, and will report on this in the next quarter.


Download in .csv format

During this quarter (October to December 2013), we issued 65 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.

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

Update on joint ICO and Ofcom action plan

The ICO welcomed the report from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Nuisance Calls (APPG) from their inquiry into the unsolicited marketing industry. The ICO provided evidence to the inquiry and has responded to the recommendations made by the APPG. 

Direct marketing guidance

The ICO published updated direct marketing guidance in late 2013. The guidance is aimed at organisations engaged in direct marketing and explains the legal requirements under the DPA and PECR. The guidance covers the circumstances in which organisations are able to carry out marketing over the phone, by text, by email, by post or by fax.

The updated guidance provides more practical examples about marketing activities to illustrate best practice, as well as how to comply with the law. It covers how organisations can legitimately obtain and use customer consent for the marketing of goods and services in various circumstances, and clarifies our evolving understanding of the law, particularly around the use of indirect third party consent.

We published the above information on 28 January 2014. We plan to update it each quarter.