Consumer: Leeds OAP hounded by rogue cold call firms

editorial image. Photo By Jennifer Jacquemart / Rex Features

editorial image. Photo By Jennifer Jacquemart / Rex Features

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A pensioner was bombarded with sales calls from rogue firms, despite signing up to an opt-out register.

THE daughter of an 85-year old Leeds man, who was hounded by unsolicited sales calls despite signing up to a national screening service, is calling for tougher action on rogue companies who are flouting the law,

Lorraine Cryer’s father Martin Missett suffers from short term memory loss and epilepsy.

His family signed him up to the Telephone Preference Service (TPS), because he was getting unwanted sales calls, silent calls and recorded messages.

The TPS is a free national opt-out register where consumers can register their wish not to receive unsolicited sales and marketing telephone calls. It is a legal requirement that companies do not call people on the register.

However some rogue companies do not adhere,

“We thought registering with the TPS would stop the nuisance calls,” Lorraine told Consumerwatch.

“But recently, we discovered that several companies had contacted dad and signed him up to services that he neither needed nor wanted.

“He had a contract sent from a digital satellite servicing company, but he has no satellite dish. Also a man came to service a vacuum cleaner which he hasn’t got, wanting to charge him £30.

“He is also pestered by marketing calls and PPI and other claims companies, despite being signed up to the TPS.”

She said she had tried to complain to TPS on-line, but the process is very difficult because they need a date and time of the unwanted call, as well as a contact number.

“As dad has short-term memory problems, he doesn’t record these, so we cannot further the complaint,” he said.

“We are getting nowhere fast.

“My father cannot be the only person in the Leeds area that is being targeted in this way.”

John Mitchison, head of the Telephone Preference Service, told Consumerwatch the service itself is campaigning for more enforcement action from the regulators.

He acknowledged that unsolicited phone calls “can be annoying and cause distress to people, especially the elderly and vulnerable”.

He said that although TPS is a free service that is “effective” at stopping live unsolicited sales and marketing calls made by reputable UK-based companies, it is not a “call-blocking device”.

“The law requires companies to screen their calls against the TPS’s ‘do not call’ list,” he said.

“Most of these calls are not made by reputable companies, which is why the TPS has been urging the regulators for more enforcement action against companies operating outside the law for the past 18 months.

“Those that are still bombarded with sales and marketing calls, despite having registered with the TPS, should make a complaint.

“All complaints are passed on to the Information Commissioner’s Office which is responsible for enforcing the legislation.

“It’s the responsibility of the regulators to use enforcement action to protect the consumer, as well as the interests of the vast majority of companies that comply with the law and adhere to the highest standards of best practice.”

Meanwhile West Yorkshire Trading Standards has also issued advice to people who are fed up of nuisance calls, as part of Scams Awareness Month 2014.

The organisation is warning people not to get tricked by false promises being made by scammers.

It says that some rogue callers have even been trying to sell ‘scam stopping’ devices and falsely claiming links with the TPS when targeting potential victims.

David Lodge, head of West Yorkshire Trading Standards, said: “Beware of anyone contacting you out of the blue and always hang up on unknown cold callers. There are legitimate devices out there that you can buy to stop all nuisance calls, but you should always seek advice before you buy. If you are receiving seriously high volumes of calls we suggest changing your telephone number and reporting any information on cold callers to Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 08454 040506.”

HOW ‘OPTING OUT’ WORKS

The Privacy and Electronic (EC Directive) Regulations 2003 is the legislation covering unsolicited sales calls.

Individuals at a residential address, sole traders and partnerships can sign up free to TPS.

The direct marketing industry pays for the service. The Government does not contribute.

The service is intended for live telephone numbers. Your number will remain registered with TPS as long as it is active.

Visit www.tpsonline.org.uk for more about TPS.

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