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Could the Telephone Preference Service help me?

The Telephone Preference Service could seriously help you reduce the number of nuisance calls you receive – but what does it mean?


Hi everyone! Zarte here, I’m really pleased you’re back to read anoth-...

*phone rings*

Sorry, excuse me, I need to answer that.

Hello? Fine thank you, who are you? I see. Yes, this is the third time you’ve called this week. I’ve not had an accident and I’m not entitled to compensation, will you PLEASE stop phoning. No, I’m certain, thank you, goodbye.

Sorry about that… I’m constantly getting calls like that. It’s driving me absolutely barmy. I really need to sign up for the Telephone Preference Service, but I’ve just never gotten around to it. Actually, that gives me an idea of what to talk about today. I suspect most of you are aware that such a thing exists, but do you know how to set it up? Or how it works?

The TPS is a free service for domestic telephones. There is a similar one for businesses which is the Corporate Telephone Preference Service (CTPS). Both of them are absolutely free to apply to, and will take 28 days to come into effect from the time of application. Your application will be in effect for one year. If you are a residential user, you only have to apply once. For businesses, you will need to spend roughly a minute a year dealing with renewing your CTPS application – you will be emailed directly by the organisation to do so.

Enforcement of the TPS is the responsibility of the Information Commissioner’s Office, who since 2012 have had the power to issue fines of up to half a million pounds to companies found to be breaching the rules.

It should be pointed out that some companies refuse to acknowledge the TPS and continue their business regardless, primarily because the ICO are for some reason reluctant to actually wield the power bestowed upon them. Nonetheless, it is estimated that the TPS/CTPS have successfully reduced unwanted calls by a third, and in the current climate where time is money, that is still a sizeable proportion.

There are also some businesses which are exempt from the TPS/CTPS. This includes debt collection agencies, who have permission to call anyone. That said, should you ever have the misfortune to deal with one of them, who flout reasonable practice, you can still report them to the local Trading Standards Office. Market Research companies also aren’t bound by the same rules, however if you tell a company that you wish to opt out with them, then they are expected to honour your wishes, and could be reported if they fail to.

The effect of GDPR on the TPS is interesting, as it in essence gives people and businesses two grounds under which to complain about unwanted calls. For businesses to call you, they should follow the guidelines under which GDPR says that data may be held. It should be freely given, specific (agreeing to one sector of a business’ activity does not mean permission can be assumed for all others), informed, and be able to be confirmed should it be looked into.

This isn’t to say that the system is without its issues. As mentioned, many businesses choose to ignore the existence of the TPS, and the ICO has at time of writing, not issued any meaningful action to businesses for some 9 years, despite receiving between one and two thousand complaints a month. It also doesn’t have any direct ability to assist with fraudulent calls, which are on the rise in the UK. In instances of fraud, contact should always be made to the police first, and not the TPS/CTPS/ICO.

It is, in our opinion, still worthwhile to sign up for however, as even businesses who choose not to purchase the information about those on the list, when told directly that you are a part of the TPS/CTPS will often remove you manually from their call lists, meaning that over time you will see a reduction in nuisance calls, even beyond the third of calls that it is believed the system removes.

For more information or advice regarding the TPS/CTPS, feel free to give us a call on 023 9298 8855 and we’ll be all to happy to assist.

Until next time!