Bournemouth University’s Professor Keith Brown has highlighted an important change in UK law this month, with BU research undertaken in partnership with the Joint Fraud Taskforce, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), and the National Trading Standards (NTS) Scams Team, having been incremental in its development.
The new law, coming into force this month, will see an improved level of protection for the public against cold callers, as recipients will now be required to ‘opt-in’ to receive unsolicited calls from organisations, which some would label ‘nuisance calls’.
BU joined forces with the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) in 2015, with commissioned work looking into who responds to financial scams and the impact of these on health and wellbeing. BU has also produced a range of learning materials for social care professionals, Age UK and the community health sector, which are promoted by NHS England’s safeguarding team to help educate healthcare professionals on scam prevention. They also produced the All Party Parliamentary Group (Financial Scamming and Fraud) publication which was issue to MPs. All these materials have been presented at Parliament on multiple occasions.
Previously, members of the public had to ‘opt-out’ of receiving such calls by registering with the free Telephone Preference Service or withdraw their consent while on the call. However, the new legislation will force the caller to make the necessary checks to make sure they have the recipient’s consent before calling. Those offering, for example, unwanted claims management services could be fined as much as half a million pounds by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), if they breach the rules.
Professor Keith Brown, Director of the National Centre for Post-Qualifying Social Work (NCPQSW) at BU, said: “The new laws mean that people will now have to give consent to receive calls from these marketing companies. The Information Commissioner’s Office will also be able to pursue cold call ‘sharks’ more effectively to address the root cause of the problem. This should mean that we will all be receiving less unsolicited calls originating from the UK, which means less PPI and pension claim calls.”
He added: “Before we got involved, Trading Standards were dealing with the issue alone, we have broadened their support networks and more people are now interested in Trading Standards. We became involved as a result of being recognised as national leaders in the areas of safeguarding and mental capacity, and ‘opting-in’ in order to receive these marketing calls has been one of our key campaign ‘Asks’.
“We are delighted that this change in law has occurred. It is a result of this combined pressure, which BU has been leading, that has caused the government to make these changes.”
Professor Brown has taken part in over 20 national conference keynote addresses to raise the profile of the issue, with support from Conor Burns, MP for Bournemouth West, who launched the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Financial Crime and Scamming in 2017 and has hosted two parliamentary events to highlight the issue.
Minister of State for Digital and the Creative Industries Margot James MP said: “Today we are one step closer to ending the menace of nuisance calls. Our new laws mean people will now have to give consent to receive calls and have the power to choose where they seek compensation for personal injury claims or mis-sold payment protection insurance.
“This is a big boost for the Information Commissioner’s Office and will help them crack down on the cold call sharks.”
In continuing its work to prevent financial scamming, the NCPQSW and its partners will now look to challenge financial institutions in the steps they can take to help identify susceptible customers and investigate systems that could prevent fraudulent payments.
NCPQSW is committed to working with its partners to ensure there is a consistent message and strategy to prevent scams in order to reduce the possibility of future confusion and anxiety in this area. The Centre makes all its materials freely available and helps produce consistent messages by working together with all organisations working to prevent scamming and fraud.
With one of the fastest growing groups of people responding to scams being under 25, the Centre is also looking to upskill future generations by suggesting that financial education should be a compulsory part of the school curriculum.
To read more about the work of the NCPQSW at BU, click here.