What is the TPS?

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The chance of you having been bothered by nuisance calls recently is as high as the chance of Rafael Nadal winning the French Open. It simply looks inevitable. Only if you are registered on the TPS, you can hope to reduce the number of spam calls interrupting your daily routine and causing you unnecessary anxiety.

So, what’s the TPS?

The TPS, or Telephone Preference Service, is a free service run by the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), and overseen by Ofcom. The TPS is essentially a register holding the numbers of those people who have opted out of receiving unsolicited sales and marketing calls. It is unlawful for an organisation to makes calls to numbers registered on the TPS unless they have consent to do so.

Legal requirements

The organisations which want to make sales calls to members of public, are obliged to screen their sales lists against the TPS register, and remove those numbers that are on it. The frequency of the checks you must perform is at least one every 28 days.

Non-compliance, or mere neglection of the rule, could send your business in a turmoil of troubles. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is the body that takes actions against the organisations that have breached the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003.

In addition to a hefty fine of between £50 000 and £500 000, the penalised business will need to find a way to clean its smeared reputation, the bad publicity of messing with the ICO could bring about.

And, unfortunately, the examples of companies stubbornly refusing to respect the TPS, are abundant. One of the recent cases involved an Essex firm being fined £50 000 for making nuisance calls to people who have clearly expressed their desire not to be contacted. The TPS received 160 complaints about the company in question between January and August 2016, and the ICO received further 27 complaints directly.

The TPS has warned on their website that there could be fake services claiming they can register your number for a fee. You shouldn’t be deceived by this, as the real TPS is completely free.

Mind the small print

The TPS is a helpful service but it’s not overreaching and is certainly far from perfect. If you want to stop receiving unwanted calls, you have to help yourself by paying attention to what you confirm. Sometimes, even if you are on the TPS, you may inadvertently agree that a particular organisation makes sales calls to you. Your consent remains until you contact the organisation directly and express your will to be removed from their marketing lists.

How effective is the TPS?

The TPS is not ideal, and a research commissioned by Ofcom and the ICO in 2014, confirmed that the service has its flaws. The results showed that the TPS was able to block only 35% of all cold calls. This called for the introduction of tougher enforcement actions from the ICO. As of the present moment, we don’t have further information if the TPS has increased its efficiency rates after the level of fines was levied in October 2014. However, the spam calls are still deemed a problem by individuals and corporations, alike, which tells us that there is more work to be done.

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