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'Opt in' rules aimed at curbing rogue claims calls

Businesses promoting claims management services over the phone will need to ensure that recipients of their calls have opted in to receive them to avoid potential fines of up to £500,000 being imposed on them under new UK rules that have taken effect.10 Sep 2018

The changes to existing UK privacy laws were made on 8 September via the Financial Guidance and Claims Act 2018 (Commencement No. 1 and Transitional Provision) Regulations 2018. They will impact businesses offering to help consumers with personal injury claims or obtain compensation for mis-sold sell payment protection insurance (PPI), for example.

Under the new rules, businesses are barred from using or instigating the use of a public electronic communications service to make unsolicited calls for the purposes of direct marketing in relation to claims management services except where "the called line is that of a subscriber who has previously notified the caller that for the time being the subscriber consents to such calls being made by, or at the instigation of, the caller on that line".

In a statement highlighting the changes, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said: "Previously people had to ‘opt-out’ of receiving such calls by registering with the free Telephone Preference Service or withdraw their consent while on the call. However, the new powers will force the caller to make the necessary checks to make sure they have the recipient’s consent before calling."

UK minister for digital, Margot James, said the reforms will help to end "the menace of nuisance calls".

"Our new laws mean people will now have to give consent to receive calls and have the power to choose where they seek compensation for personal injury claims or mis sold payment protection insurance," James said. "This is a big boost for the Information Commissioner’s Office and will help them crack down on the cold call sharks."

Andy Curry, enforcement group manager at the ICO, said: "Millions of nuisance calls, texts and emails are made every year in the UK and can cause real distress to people. This amendment to the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations will increase our ability to take action against those companies who deliberately flout the law and cause real upset and harm."