Why does the telephone preference service exist?

Ensure your call centre is compliant

The Telephone Preference Service, or TPS, is an ‘opt-out’ register which prevents individuals from receiving unsolicited marketing calls. It’s a free and extremely useful service used by a huge number of people – an estimated 17 million – to avoid these inconvenient calls, even being put to use by companies. This is thanks to the fact that the Corporate Telephone Preference Service (CTPS) was set up in June 2004, giving corporate businesses and organisations the chance to opt-out of being on the receiving end of unsolicited market calls. Also the legal definition of ‘individual’ includes SoleTraders and Partnerships (excluding Scotland), and so these have had the opportunity to register onto the TPS since May 1999. That is when the Telecommunications (Data Protection and Privacy) Regulations1999 came into action, allowing people to register to the list. The British direct marketing industry administers the list on behalf of Ofcom.

However, regardless of whether you have registered on the TPS or not, companies and charities with which you associate, as a customer or a donor, are still authorised to contact you. Furthermore, SMS messages can not be prevented by registering on the TPS, these can only be stopped by contacting the company sending them directly.

While it is illegal for telemarketers to call a registered number, the TPS does not have any power to enforce these laws, but must pass all complaints onto the Information Commissioner’s Office which historically could only issue a fine up to £5,000. Up to this point no prosecutions have taken place for breaches of the laws (including the statutory force that the list has under the Privacy and ElectronicCommunications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003), due to the fact that the legislation did not allow for prosecutions. As mentioned, the legislation governing the TPS and CTPS was introduced in May 1999.However, this legislation was replaced by the Privacy and Electronic (EC Directive) Regulations in 2003.More recently in 2011, the Privacy and Electronic (EC Directive) (Amendment) Regulations came into force, which significantly increased the power of the entity that polices and applies these regulations,The Information Commissioners Office. The Information Commissioner now has the power to impose fines of up to £500,000 for serious breaches of PECR.

The TPS exists above all to stop people from suffering the inconvenience and annoyance of unsolicited marketing calls in their everyday lives. With the development of the likes of ‘cold-call’ centres,especially during the 1990s, the need for the TPS grew rapidly. The public needed a way of being able to make the choice of whether to avoid these calls or not. If you operate a call centre, ensure that you avoid hefty TPS fines by deploying TPS Compliant from Nexbridge.

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