MP’s fight against nuisance callers

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A WEARSIDE MP is taking action over nuisance callers who are plaguing Wearsiders.

Bridget Phillipson, MP for Houghton and Sunderland South, has written to Maria Miller, Secretary of State for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, asking what can be done to cut the numbers of unwanted calls.

MP for Houghton and Sunderland South, Bridget Phillipson.

MP for Houghton and Sunderland South, Bridget Phillipson.

A survey by Ms Phillipson found that 88 per cent of residents across the city have been the victim of nuisance phone calls on either a daily or weekly basis.

The survey found:

l 51 per cent reported nuisance phone calls daily

l 37 per cent reported weekly calls

l 55 per cent described them as ‘annoying’ with just nine per cent describing them as “stressful”

l 90 per cent of people dealt with calls by hanging up. Others use methods from ignoring or screening via answerphone to blowing a whistle at particularly irritating callers.

Ofcom, the telecoms regulator, recently reported that UK households receive too many nuisance calls.

In addition, the consumer campaign group Which? has found households registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) received double the number of nuisance phone calls compared to those who had not signed up to the opt-out service.

Commenting on the results of the survey, Ms Phillipson said: “The true scale of the problem was really quite surprising. Many constituents told me that nuisance calls can be unsettling and stressful – particularly for older people.

“There should be heavy penalties for companies that don’t observe the rules, and they should be banned from cold calling if they do.

“I have written to the Government asking what more they can do to strengthen the powers of the regulator.”

There were 142 people who responded to the email survey held between August 1 and August 31.

COMMENTS from people taking the survey include:

l “Although registered with TPS, I still receive about 10 spam phone calls a day.”

l “These calls are a nightmare. We have the telephone preference scheme but still receive a lot of nuisance calls. Many are the type you describe, computer generated, however we’ve noticed he also receives the “you are now eligible for a new boiler/kitchen/bathroom “ etc. These firms would claim to be providing a service.

l “The TPS has helped, the problem is calls are now coming as International or withheld which TPS seems to be unable to stop, a lot of my family live in other countries so I don’t want to block international calls.”

l “A lot of online services and organisations appear to give/sell your details to others when you register/buy online and I understand this is how the cold callers often get your number in the first place. If this cannot be prevented by Government then maybe there should be a ruling that when we buy or use services online, there should be a box to opt in to passing details on.”

l “I don’t think it appropriate for companies, banks, etc to be able to sell my telephone number on to other companies without getting direct permission from me to do so.”