We receive daily emails from consumers with inquiries about the numerous companies that cold call them over and over again. A very common question in those emails is, how can we stop this from happening? Is there anything we can do?
Thanks to the information we received from one of our readers, who has done some research on the Data Protection laws and these related to cold calls, we can provide you with the following information.
Please have a look at the UK legislation and official advice on the subject of data protection which has EU wide equivalents.
The legislation is the Data Protection Act 1998 and the authority is the Information Commissioner’s Office. Help line 03031231113 and the complaints procedure/advice is online www.ico.gov.uk/complaints.aspx
Basically there is a duty for a company (e.g. Club Class) to protect personal information and for it to be used only for the original purpose for which it was intended. Failing to comply with the Data Protection laws carries heavy penalties.
For example Club Class has therefore committed the offence of failing to secure personal information and have indirectly but very effectively admitted this in their warning messages about other fraudulent groups who have Club Class -sourced information in their possession. (This warning was published on their website!)
This also applies to Club Class subsidiaries that were not authorized to have this information unless it was for the purpose for which the information was originally provided, for example the travel company is a logical part of the holiday package but the resale companies are not, especially when they deny a Club Class link. All the non-Club Class companies are in unlawful possession of the information due to Club Class negligence and therefore any cold caller who admits to having Club Class sourced information has committed an offence.
Complaints to the ICO should contain the following:
1) The date and time of the call and company and personal names and the telephone number. (An unidentified caller should be ignored – just hang up)
2) If received by email or letter send a copy.
3) The reason for the complaint e.g. – the caller said that they had learnt that I was not using/had not paid fees to Club Class (or other company as appropriate – we use Club Class as a handy “generic” example) and they could help me to get my money back. This proves that the only possible original source is Club Class who has therefore failed to secure the information and that the caller who is clearly acting against Club Class interests is in unlawful possession of the personal information.
The ICO has a policy of trying to correct problems in the first instance and would therefore bring a single complaint to e.g. Club Class attention to see if there is a remedy but a series of complaints would require stronger action including prosecution.
The complaint process should therefore be against the cold caller in the first instance as they are committing an offence as soon as they admit to holding personal data which they are not authorized to have.
The natural and logical presumption is that they are in unlawful possession of the data and it is up to them to prove lawful possession if accused. Club Class would then be asked if they had authorized the cold caller to have the information in the first place – which is an offence and if they did not they are guilty of a failure to secure the information.
Crackdown on cold callers (bogus timeshare resale & legal consultancies firms spotlight) – May 312011, Daily Mail http://www.dailymail.co.uk/money/article-1392834/Crackdown-cold-callers-Action-devious-salesmen-hound-home.html?ITO=1490
Cold callers face Crackdown: http://www.lovemoney.com/news/scams-and-rip-offs/scams/12087/cold-callers-face-crackdown
Ten tips to stop cold calling: http://www.which.co.uk/technology/phones/guides/ten-tips-to-stop-cold-calls/