ICO and Ofcom publish joint action plan for tackling nuisance calls

Posted on 23/03/2021

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) and Ofcom have today outlined a joint plan for tackling nuisance and scam calls for 2021/2022.

The ICO takes the lead on tackling live and recorded marketing calls and nuisance text messages and emails. They are responsible for taking enforcement action against organisations that breach the relevant rules. Ofcom leads on silent and abandoned calls and works collaboratively with the ICO, telecoms companies and other organisations, providing research and technical assistance as well as advice to consumers.  

The ICO and Ofcom saw complaints about nuisance calls or messages decrease overall in 2020, however both also noted a surge in complaints from September/October to December 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. Ofcom saw an 83% increase in the number of complaints between October and December 2020 compared with the same months in 2019. Similarly, the ICO saw a 27% rise in complaints between September and December 2020 compared to the same months in the previous year. Since 2013, the ICO and Ofcom have published joint action plans to tackle the harm to consumers caused by nuisance calls and messages. In May 2020 we set our key areas of focus in tackling nuisance calls including:    

  • Taking targeted action against people or companies that are not following the ICO’s and Ofcom’s rules.
  • Raising awareness of and tackling Coronavirus (Covid-19) scams and continuing to support the work of Stop Scams UK.
  • Working with telecoms companies to improve how they disrupt and prevent nuisance calls, by reviewing solutions made available to customers by their provider.
  • Working with other regulators and enforcement agencies to identifying new opportunities to prevent nuisance calls and scams.
  • Sharing intelligence with others, including international partners and enforcement agencies.

This update reports on the progress made in each of the areas over the last year. We are publishing this update as the UK continues to manage the impacts of the coronavirus and looks at how initiatives designed to curb these kinds of calls and messages are working in practice.

In the year ahead, the ICO and Ofcom will continue to take action on these five key areas and we will publish an update on our progress in 2022. Ofcom also publishes advice for people on how to protect yourself from nuisance calls and messages, and who to complain to if you do receive them.

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