TPS on the BBC – What Panorama Had to Say About UK Cold Calling

On Monday 2nd July 2012, the BBC aired the Panorama programme – Call Centres Undercover. One of the main themes that this programme explored was the Telephone Preference Service, and whether or not they were achieving their goal of preventing unsolicited calls being made to individuals and businesses that had registered with the TPS service.

TPS Regulations

TPS Regulations state that anybody that has registered their number with the TPS mustn’t receive unsolicited sales and marketing calls. The fines associated with breaching these regulations are imposed by the Information Commissioners Office. The ICO has the power to enforce fines of up to £500,000 on companies that breach TPS regulations.

TPS Circumvention

What was particularly interesting to hear from the Panorama investigation was that registration to the TPS service can be circumvented call centres where an individual has agreed to specific provisions contained in an organisations privacy policy in respect of how their personal information can be used by a third party. In a situation where an individual has registered with the Telephone Preference Service, but has also agreed (perhaps unwillingly) to have their contact information shared with a third party, they can be contacted by a call centre without fear of being fined by the Information Commissioners Office. Clearly there needs to be regulatory intervention to ensure that TPS registration supersedes all other agreements entered into by an individual so that their request to not receive sales and marketing calls can be respected.

The Direct Marketing Association and The Information Commissioners Office

Perhaps the most shocking statistic to come out of the Panorama programme was the fact that the Direct Marketing Association had received between 1,000 and 2,000 complaints every month, which it subsequently sends on to the Information Commissioners Office (ICO). Despite the new powers afforded to the ICO in January 2012, the Director of Operations for the ICO confirmed on the programme that nobody had ben punished for flouting the regulations.

The Solution

In order to ensure call centre adherence to all regulations governing TPS, it is recommended that a real time TPS checking service be implemented, such as TPS Compliant from Nexbridge. This service will check the telephone number against the TPS register at the point that the call is made by the call centre agent or dialler, and will prevent the call being made if the dialled number is on the TPS register. You can be assured that you will always be compliant as TPS Compliant is updated with the latest data every day.

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