Committee Outlines Action Plan to Stamp Out Rogue UK Telemarketers

A select committee of MPs is driving proposals to clamp down on cowboy telemarketers who have become the "bane of millions of people".

The Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee have issued a report outlining recommendations for a number of new telecom practise measures, including it becoming mandatory for phone companies to provide customers with caller display and other options to "screen, block and curtail" nuisance calls. They would like to see customers given a "wide range of technical options" in standard packages at no extra cost.

A recent example that has been singled out for criticism by the committee was BT's decision to charge £1.75 for caller display unless customers take a 12-month contract. The report stated: "We find BT's justification for charging for caller display totally unconvincing and ask them to reconsider. Other communications companies who charge their customers for a similar facility should likewise consider providing this free of charge."

The committee would further like to see the Government stepping in to ban telemarketers from withholding numbers to make it possible for people to report rogue behaviour. It also hopes that consumers will refuse to buy from companies that do not use an identifiable phone number.

Additionally, amongst other measure that the report covers, the committee is calling for a single web form and Helpline to make it easier for people to complain about nuisance telemarketers. The current system is split - misuse of data is handled by the Information Commissioner's Office while complaints about silent or abandoned calls are the responsibility of Ofcom.

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