DIRECT NEWS: DTI gets tough on junk calls and faxes

The Government has warned direct marketing companies that it will outlaw unsolicited telephone calls and junk faxes unless the industry puts its house in order.

The Government has warned direct marketing companies that it will

outlaw unsolicited telephone calls and junk faxes unless the industry

puts its house in order.



The Department of Trade and Industry has decided to give consumers a

legal right to ’opt out’ of receiving unsolicited phone calls using a

registration system.



The proposals will enshrine in law the industry’s current

self-regulatory system. Companies will be able to refuse unsolicited

faxes and direct marketing companies will be banned from sending them to

individuals.



However, ministers have served notice that if the voluntary system does

not work, they will legislate to ensure a watertight system.



Barbara Roche, the Trade and Industry minister, said: ’Should this

industry-run, opt-out scheme not provide effective protection for

consumers, the Government reserves the right to amend the regulations

and strengthen the provisions preventing unsolicited direct marketing

faxes or calls.’



The minister added that government action could include an ’opt-out

approach’ under which telephone sales calls could be made only to people

who had expressly agreed to receive them.



Under the existing proposals, which implement a European Union

directive, direct marketing companies will have to include a freephone

number or address on all faxes sent, to allow consumers to contact them

if they want to be removed from the list.



’We all know how annoying it can be to be disturbed at home by an

unsolicited phone call from a company intent on selling you something,’

Roche added.



’It’s even more frustrating for a small company to have its fax machine

clogged by unwanted advertising - and having to pay for the fax paper

used.’



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