Direct Selling

Culture Media and Sport written question – answered on 4th July 2012.

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Photo of Robert Buckland Robert Buckland Conservative, South Swindon

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport what steps his Department is taking to tackle the problem of nuisance phone calls about (a) personal protection insurance and (b) other matters.

Photo of Ed Vaizey Ed Vaizey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

While direct marketing is a legitimate business activity, unwanted and unsolicited calls about insurance or any other matter can be a nuisance. There are regulations in place that enable consumers to opt out of such calls by registering with the Telephone Preference Scheme (TPS). The Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) 2003 provides the legislative underpinning for the scheme and the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has enforcement responsibility and considers complaints about breaches.

In May of last year, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) increased the ICO's powers in relation to the regulations, enabling the ICO to issue a fine of up to £500,000 for the most serious breaches. While these measures are available we are aware of the rising number of complaints that the current protections are not working as best as they could and we are keen to improve them.

DCMS is discussing the effectiveness of the TPS with Ofcom, who are responsible for the contract, TPS and ICO. We are looking at measures to give consumers better protection and are seeking views on how the current consumer protections can be improved as part of the Communications Review.

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