Cold Calls and the Law
Most of us will - at one time or another - have received telephone calls, electronic mails or visits to our home which have been unsolicited. For the most part these unsolicited communications are from businesses, charitable institutions or other organisations who want us to do business with them or to engage in a service or sponsorship they have to offer.
Unfortunately however there are those members of society who use this tradition of British business as a means to try and gain an insight into our personal lives and where possible gain access to personal information which would normally be hidden from them.
For this reason the government and law enforcement agencies of the United Kingdom have - in conjunction with local authorities and consumer organisations - taken a look at the laws governing cold calling.
What is a Cold Call?At one time a so-called 'Cold Call' would have been an impromptu telephone call or unsolicited communication - sometimes in person - from an institution, business or organisation that wanted to take on new members or new customers.
The tradition of so-called 'Door to Door Salesmen' was such in the United Kingdom that individuals in certain areas had been known to receive a number of unsolicited visits in a week numbering more than ten.
However in recent times with identity theft and robberies committed within the confines of individual's own homes, the government and other agencies have combined to rethink the laws on such a practice and have made some changes.
The Telephone Preference Service (TPS)Following on from changes in the law the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) was formed in order to help combat the persistent and often annoying trend of businesses telephoning private residents with a few to either selling them products over the telephone or gathering information for their clients.
Traditionally the most notorious of offenders for such a practice were organisations such as Double Glazing companies who would telephone private residences at times often in excess of 8pm. This constituted a breach of protocol so in light of this anyone who has a telephone line into a private residence can request that their details be submitted to the Telephone Preference Service (TPS).
This is a free service - and you should be asked when commencing a telephone service through the likes of British Telecom - if you would like to be listed with them. If you agree your details are then added to the Telephone Preference Service's database which is designed to let businesses and other organisations know you do not wish to be contacted by telephone. Business and other organisations who do not heed this are liable to fines of up to £1000.
Caller IDYou can also ask your telephone service provider about Caller ID. For a small fee each quarter - or month depending on how your bill is paid - you can use this service to screen any calls coming into your line. Providing you have a telephone handset which is capable of displaying such numbers you can see the number of the individual calling you and decide as to whether or not you wish to answer.
Door Step Cold CallingOnce known as 'Door to Door Selling' this is now a practice that - although not illegal it is frowned upon. If you have been on the receiving end of such door step cold calling then you will be aware of how distressing it can be - especially if you live alone or are of a vulnerable disposition.
Your best course of action is not to open the door and should the individual leave any literature then you should contact the organisation on whose behalf the caller is acting and request that they stop.
If they continue with the practice it is recommended that you contact Trading Standards and make a formal complaint.