Nuisance phone calls 'complete review of the current system is desperately needed'

 Article added: 11/06/2013
The Telephone Preference Service (TPS)

The Telephone Preference Service (TPS) is a central list of UK consumers who have opted out of receiving marketing calls. It's currently maintained by the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) and companies are legally required to screen their outbound marketing lists against the TPS prior to making cold calls

It's been just over 14 years since its introduction, but clearly it hasn't moved with the times.

A recent survey by consumer champions Which? ( found that 85% of people are still being plagued by unwanted phone calls, with one in 10 of them receiving, on average, a whopping 50 or more unsolicited calls each month.

Nearly nineteen million phone numbers are registered on the TPS, but it seems that many of the registered TPS users interviewed by Which? were not happy with the service.

Which? sampled 2,070 people in the UK and about 6 in 10 people registered with the TPS were not satisfied with its service.

"Consumers are sick and tired of being bombarded with nuisance calls and texts," said Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd. "The current system is failing the public and given the scale of this problem, it's time for the government to step in.

"We urgently need to see a new approach, new laws and new technology to tackle this scourge on people's lives. People must be put back in control of their personal data."

"Screening data against the TPS or the CTPS is easy, cheap and facilities are available online so there's no excuse. It's just that many companies who should be using them don't or worst still, don't even know they are supposed to use them" said TPS Services Managing Director Vince Costa-Barnett. "Websites like and allow companies to screen their data against the TPS and CTPS in a matter of minutes. We often find that many of the companies we contact get oddly suspicious when we ask them about their TPS screening facilities as if we're trying to catch them out when in fact we're simply trying to help. I think some companies treat the TPS as a kind of 'should do' but no big deal if I don't, which is where the ICO needs to send a clear message."

Vince Costa-Barnett Director

"Another issue is that Data Suppliers are often not very clear when they supply data that whilst the data they sell might have been TPS screened at the point of sale, that only lasts for 28 days and then the data requires re-screening by law."

"It's also an unfortunate fact that the telecoms industry is shrouded in secrecy. They use the Data Protection Act so as to avoid passing on the details of companies who make these calls whilst withholding their telephone numbers. Clearly making money is their priority over consumer protection."

The ICO has the power to issue fines of up to £500,000 for breaches of regulations on unwanted calls, texts and emails, but proving it is not as simple as many people think.

The Telephone Preference Service, which is funded by the direct marketing industry, allows people to opt out of any unsolicited sales or marketing calls.

It is a legal requirement that organisations do not make such calls to numbers registered on the TPS unless they have the individual's consent to do so.

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