Ha­rass­ing calls - how can the law help?

Zululand Observer - Monday - - ZO BUSINESS -

Have you been re­ceiv­ing calls from un­known cell­phone num­bers or pri­vate num­bers? Do these callers con­tinue calling at least three or four times a day? When you an­swer, are you greeted with an au­to­mated re­sponse or the call be­ing dis­con­nected? PAMELA PILLAY, At­tor­ney and Con­veyancer at Klop­pers Inc, looks into this ha­rass­ing trend caus­ing much an­noy­ance to Zu­l­u­lan­ders

THE most com­mon way in which your per­sonal in­for­ma­tion can be dis­closed to other parties is through tele­mar­keters.

Tele­mar­ket­ing com­pa­nies com­pile cus­tomer data­bases of many thou­sands of peo­ple and once your in­for­ma­tion is stored on a data­base, it can be shared from one com­pany to an­other in a non-com­pet­ing field.

This means that if an in­sur­ance com­pany part­ners with a tourism com­pany to pro­vide in­sur­ance, your de­tails, as a client of the in­sur­ance com­pany, will be shared with the tourism com­pany and boost their data­base.

An­other way in which your per­sonal in­for­ma­tion can be ob­tained is through so­cial me­dia cam­paigns and opt-in com­pe­ti­tions like, for ex­am­ple, ‘Win an iPad’ com­pe­ti­tions on Face­book, or via web­sites ask­ing you to reg­is­ter for easy loans or to ap­ply for em­ploy­ment in other coun­tries.

We of­ten do not read the fine print when fill­ing out on­line ap­pli­ca­tions and un­know­ingly agree to our per­sonal in­for­ma­tion be­ing dis­closed to other parties.

Re­cent leg­is­la­tion in the form of the Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion Act (CPA) and the Pro­tec­tion of Per­sonal In­for­ma­tion Act (POPI) pro­hibits un­so­licited direct mar­ket­ing. Part

B of Chap­ter 2 of the

CPA stip­u­lates that the ‘right of ev­ery per­son to pri­vacy in­cludes the right to pre-emp­tively block any ap­proach or com­mu­ni­ca­tion, if the ap­proach or com­mu­ni­ca­tion is pri­mar­ily for the pur­pose of direct mar­ket­ing’.

Mean­while, Chap­ter 8 of POPI stip­u­lates that

‘the pro­cess­ing of per­sonal in­for­ma­tion for the pur­pose of direct mar­ket­ing by means of SMS or e-mail is pro­hib­ited’, un­less con­sent is given.

Open a case

Un­for­tu­nately, POPI does not af­ford pro­tec­tion against ha­rass­ing and un­wanted phone calls.

If the ha­rass­ing calls are com­ing from un­known num­bers or num­bers that are shown, you can visit your near­est po­lice sta­tion and open a case of ha­rass­ment.

The po­lice of­fi­cer will take a state­ment and also re­quest your iden­tity doc­u­ment, cell­phone and sim card so he/she can record your cell­phone’s se­rial num­ber and sim num­ber.

In South Africa, the Reg­u­la­tion of In­ter­cep­tion of Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Act (RICA) al­lows po­lice and cell­phone net­work providers to have ac­cess to ev­ery cell­phone users con­tact num­ber and phys­i­cal ad­dress.

The po­lice can use this in­for­ma­tion to con­duct their in­ves­ti­ga­tion and trace the per­pe­tra­tor.

There­after, they will con­tact the com­plainant to ad­vise them of the iden­tity of the per­pe­tra­tor and con­sult with the com­plainant on how they wish to pro­ceed.

If the calls are com­ing from a tele­mar­ket­ing com­pany, reg­is­ter­ing on the na­tional opt-out data­base can en­able you to opt out of all direct mar­ket­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion. The na­tional optout reg­is­ter is run by the Direct Mar­ket­ing As­so­ci­a­tion of South

Africa (DMASA).

To reg­is­ter, visit www. na­tion­aloptout.co.za.

If you have a smart­phone, there are a num­ber of call screen­ing apps that tell you who is phon­ing and gives you the op­tion to de­cline the call.

The last op­tion would be to sim­ply block the num­bers or con­tinue to ig­nore the calls.

If the calls are from a tele­mar­ket­ing com­pany, the caller will hope­fully get tired of you not an­swer­ing and stop calling.

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