Is Cold Calling Illegal in The UK?

What is Cold Calling?

Cold calling by telephone is the practice of directly contacting an individual or business with the underlying goal of getting them interested in a business or service.

Over the years, many unscrupulous companies and individuals have used cold calling to take advantage of vulnerable people for anything from stock scams and extortion to corporate invoicing scams.

Is Cold Calling Illegal?

Not all cold calling is illegal, and not all cold callers are involved in illegal practices.

UK law dictates a series of controls to protect consumers and businesses from those that seek to gain and process information unlawfully. Therefore, it allows those that are working within the confines of the law to keep being able to cold call the right people.

What Are the Types of Cold Calling?

There are two types of defined cold call:

  • Live Calling. Where a real person telephones another.
  • Automated calling. Where a dialer machine rotates through many numbers and when a call is answered a human sounding machine speaks.

What Are the Controls in Place to Stop Cold Calling?

There are two main registers called the TPS (Telephone Preference Service) and the CTPS (Corporate Telephone Preference Service).

Therefore, if the intended recipient of the calls is signed up to either one of those and they have not explicitly given you consent to call them, they should never be cold called.

As a result, calling a number registered with TPS or CTPS can lead to a fine of £6,500 for each registered number dialled.

TPS Press Release

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has issued fines totalling £480,000 to four separate companies for making unlawful calls to numbers registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS).

Chameleon Marketing (H.I) Ltd from Leeds; Rancom Security Limited based in Sutton Coldfield; Repair & Assure Limited from Redhill and Solar Style Solutions Limited in Stockton on Tees were found to have made 2.4million illegal calls between them. This resulted in over 250 complaints to the ICO and the TPS.

It is against the law to make marketing calls to numbers that have been registered with the TPS for more than 28 days, unless people have provided consent.

TPS/ICO 28/01/2021

How Do I check TPS or CTPS Numbers?

There are a number of secure paid services available for secure data cleansing and TPS cross-referencing.

As an example, a marketer uploads their intended receipt numbers and the platforms validate that data. This lets them know which number they can and can’t call.

Can We Cold Call Businesses (B2B)?

You can cold call businesses if:

  • They are not on the TPS or CTPS register – smaller companies will register with the TPS.
  • They have not objected to your calls in the past or opted out of calls.
  • If the call is automated, you must include your name, and contact address or freephone number and they must have opted in to automated calls.

Can We Cold Call People (B2C)?

You can cold call individuals if:

  • They have opted in to calls from you.
  • The individual is not on the TPS register.
  • They have not objected to your calls in the past or opted out of calls.
  • If the call is automated, you must include your name, and contact address or freephone number and they must have opted in to automated calls.
  • You are not making calls in relation to pension schemes (unless are authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority).

Types of Cold Calling Phone Scams to Be Aware Of

Evidently, there are a number of cold call scams in the UK that are regularly prosecuted. For instance, some common ones are detailed below.

  • Pension and Investment Schemes
  • HMRC Tax Collection
  • COVID-19 Scams
  • Banking Fraud Calls, acting as the police or a bank
  • Computer Virus Scams
  • Cryptocurrency Investments