Ofcom taking steps to stop nuisance calls and protect vulnerable customers

Ofcom taking steps to stop nuisance calls and protect vulnerable customers - Office Phone Shop

From the 1st October 2018, a series of measures, including financial penalties, will come into force to protect vulnerable customers.

These include people with learning or communication difficulties and those suffering physical or mental illness or bereavement.

The measures will require all communications providers to offer disabled users access to priority fault repair, third-party bill management and accessible bills.

These facilities are already in place for landline and mobile services but will be extended to cover broadband.
Telecoms operators must also have clear policies in place for identifying vulnerable customers to ensure they are treated fairly and appropriately.

“We have clarified and simplified many of our rules, making them easier for providers to understand. We have also made the regulations simpler by removing rules that are no longer in use,” Ofcom said.

Caller display features can help people screen nuisance calls.

Ofcom also plans to ban telecoms providers from charging for customers for caller display facilities that can help them to screen nuisance calls. Telephone numbers displayed to people receiving calls must be valid, dialable and uniquely identify the caller.

The regulator also vowed to crack down on complaints handling, to ensure prompt dealing of complaints and to keep consumers informed about the progress of their complaint, with faster access to dispute resolution services.

The changes will require broadband and mobile providers to have in place fair and transparent debt collection processes and disconnection practices, something that currently only applies to landline providers.

Some providers, such as TalkTalk and Sky, offer the service to their landline customers at no extra cost but BT charges £1.75 a month and Virgin Media £2.25 a month.

They will also be required to identify and block calls with invalid or non-dialable numbers.

Rules on billing accuracy, which currently cover voice call services, will also be extended to include broadband.
Separately, Ofcom is consulting on its powers to withdraw telephone numbers if they are misused, for example to cause harm or nuisance, or to engage in fraud.

It is also looking at which public bodies can request communications services to be restored in the event of a disaster and how providers should handle cancellation requests from customers.

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