Harassing calls - how can the law help?
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
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.