What action we've taken in August, what we're doing now and what we're doing next

Nuisance calls and messages remain a concern and tackling them is a key action for the ICO. Report your concerns to us at ico.org.uk/concerns.

What action we've taken

Throughout August we concluded several investigations into nuisance calls and spam emails. As a result, a number of organisations have received notices of our intention to take formal enforcement action.

During the month to the end of August 2018 we:

  • had 103 cases under investigation; and
  • issued 14 third party information notices to try and identify companies making nuisance calls.

On 5 June we held the latest Operation LINDEN meeting where regulators, industry and consumer organisations come together to update on themes and trends, as well as opportunities for action in this area. Click here to view the minutes from this meeting.

10,412 concerns were reported to the ICO in August 2018

The total number of concerns reported to the ICO in August was 10,412. This is a decrease of 1,412 concerns (12%) compared the previous month. Despite the decrease, figures are still at their highest point since July 2017.

All of the highest concern topics showed an overall decrease during August. Concern levels for other areas remained relatively stable, though call blockers and debt management concerns increased as a whole across live, automated and SMS.

Annual comparisions

During the 2017-18 financial year complaint volumes were noticeably lower compared to the previous year, a trend which has not continued into 2018-19. During the last two months we have seen a year on year increase, though complaint volumes remain similar and seem to follow the same trend path.

2018 to date

Between 1 January and 1 September the ICO received a total of 71,763 complaints to our online reporting tool. For the same period last year, 94,512 complaints were reported, a year on year decrease of 22,749 (24%).

Though much of the difference can be attributed to an unprecedented spike in January 2017 when 17,00 concerns were reported, this gap is growing increasingly smaller month by month and has reduced by 14% since May. This is reflective of the overall increase in concerns we have received post-GDPR.

As per last month, factors that could be attributed to the changes in the number of reported concerns include:

  • Increase in public awareness of the ICO and our enforcement work following the implementation of GDPR.
  • CMPs and other enforcement action receiving widespread and high profile media coverage, raising awareness of the online reporting tool.
  • Sustained, targeted and successful ASIT investigations and enforcement action, potentially preventing further breaches.
  • Other regulatory action by the Claims Management Regulator, Ofcom, The Insolvency Service and other agencies.
  • Call blocking and SMS anti-spam technology may also play a part in reducing the impact of unsolicited marketing on individuals, with calls being intercepted by call blocking services.
  • An increase in available reporting services for nuisance calls and messages, such as TPS protect, may cause a dilution in complaint volumes reported to each tool or regulator.

Annual changes by topic

Key areas of interest are the year on year increases seen in accident claims, energy savings and broadband calls. The latter category in particular has increased by 318%.

Live calls

  • The number of live call concerns decreased in August, breaking a recent upward trend. Concerns were down from 4,620 in July to 3,956 in August - a decrease of 14%.
  • However, levels are still the third-highest since November 2017 and distribution of concerns has not changed significantly month-on-month.
  • Accident claims were the most reported topic among live calls, despite decreasing by 27% in August. This topic was responsible for 41% of all live call concerns.

Automated calls

  • Automated calls decreased by 11% in August - however, this call type continues to outnumber live calls for the third consecutive month.
  • Accident claims were also the most reported topic in automated calls, despite decreasing by 5% in August. We also noted large monthly decreases in broadband, payday loans and oven cleaning concerns.
  • Debt management and insurance concerns rose by 17% and 29% respectively in August.

SMS

  • The number of SMS messages reported to the ICO decreased by 9% in August. This is the fourth consecutive monthly decrease, and since April concerns have dropped by 28%.
  • The most notable decrease was in the gambling topic - during August, concerns in this topic decreased by 46%. PPI and holiday reports also dropped by 59% and 60% respectively.
  • However, concerns related to topics including debt management (25%), banking (46%) and adult content (50%) rose in August.

Telephone Preference Service

Similar to our own ICO complaints, August saw a decrease in the number of valid concerns submitted to the TPS. Complaint volumes were down from 4,521 in July to 4,190 in August (-331 / 7%). However, TPS complaint levels in general have been relatively stable.

The TPS continue to see a year-on-year decrease in concerns despite the opposite trend being observed in our own data. In August this was a decrease of 2,303 concerns and 35%.

Email

There were 97 email complaints reported to the ICO in August (+37 / 62%). Though complaint numbers have increase since the dip in July, these have not yet returned to the levels seen throughout the year so far. This is likely the result of seasonal variation over the summer months.

Recruitment regained its top position in August, increasing by nine concerns. For the first time online security, computing and restaurant and takeaway emails feature in the top reported topics.

Companies under monitoring

Assessment of organisations August 2018.

Good improvements demonstrated. Enforcement action unlikely to be required

Goodwin Barrett Ltd

 

Concerns about compliance. Enforcement action possible.

Tiger Data Ltd

Taylor Edwards Financial Management Ltd

Switch2Web Services Ltd

The Money Club Direct Ltd