Ofcom announces new debt collection and communication rules

Ofcom has updated its rules to enforce stronger regulation to protect customers from nuisance calls and improve debt collection practices.

Ofcom announces new debt collection and communication rules

Last week (September 19), the communications watchdog announced the improved rules would apply to all UK communications providers and take effect from October 1 2018.

In one example, telecoms providers have been banned for charging for caller display facilities which help people to screen nuisance calls.

Under the new rules, telephone numbers displayed to people receiving calls must be valid, dialable and uniquely identify the caller. If the telephone number does not meet this criteria, the provider must block the call so it cannot reach the consumer.

Debt collection rules have also been extended from landline providers to broadband and mobile providers. These have been extended to ensure fair and transparent collection processes and disconnection practices are in place.

As for complaints handling, Ofcom has strengthened its rules to ensure complaints are dealt with promptly and effectively. Providers must keep consumers informed about the progress of their complaint with faster access to dispute resolution services in cases where they reach deadlock with their provider.

The regulator has also improved its approach to vulnerable and disabled consumers in the update to its rules.

Providers are required to have clear, effective policies and procedures for identifying vulnerable customers to ensure they are treated fairly and appropriately.

Telecoms firms are also required to offer disabled users access to priority fault repair, third-party bill management and accessible bills. These measures previously applied only to disabled people’s landline and mobile services but will now be extended to broadband.

Ofcom said it has clarified and simplified its rules to make them easier for providers to understand.