Did you know that the original meaning of the word “nuisance” is “to harm”?
We may use it these days to describe things which we find annoying, or downright irritating, but at Which? we’re beginning to think its original definition could perhaps be more appropriate when it comes to nuisance calls.
We all get them. Those constant cold calls which are just an attempt to make us spend money on something we probably don’t need - and from firms which won’t take 'no' for an answer.
But they’re not just a nuisance - they are harmful, particularly when they’re from fraudsters who are targeting the elderly and vulnerable.
In fact elderly people are believed to get an average of 39 calls a month - 50 per cent more than the rest of us, leaving them anxious and distressed.
Nuisance calls are a huge issue for us at Which? and we know our campaigning does work.
Our pressure on your behalf has ensured that the bosses of rogue cold-calling firms are now held personally liable and can be fined up to £500,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
Indeed just recently the ICO fined Carmarthenshire-based Your Money Rights Ltd a total of £350,000 after people were left feeling harassed and threatened by the firm’s automated calls.
But we believe more can and should be done.
Indeed, we have a whole host of recommendations - including making it a requirement for businesses to show their number when they call so you can choose whether or not to answer.
And we want consumers to have more control over how their personal data is used, to be able to revoke permissions to be contacted much more easily.
And we’d like a use-by-date on consent so calls stop automatically after a certain time.
You can sign our petitions asking for more government action at www.which.co.uk.
* Remember you can email me with your consumer problems and queries at firstname.lastname@example.org
HOW TO CALL FOR HELP
You can complain about a company or a number making nuisance calls and texts to a number of organisations.
These include the Telephone Preference Service, your phone operator, Ofcom (which covers silent and abandoned calls) or the ICO.
The TPS is free to use and is a register which records your preference not to receive unsolicited sales or marketing calls.
It’s against the law for companies to call consumers who are registered on the TPS without their clear consent.
If you register and still receive unwanted calls, you can make a complaint to the TPS. It can investigate but has no enforcement powers to penalise companies responsible.
But it does send complaints to the ICO which has the power to take action.