If you're fed up with unsolicited calls, texts, emails and post from charities asking for donations, a new service launching this week will let you opt out.
Registering with the Fundraising Preference Service (FPS) will allow you to block fundraising communications from any charity. But you'll need to specify every charity you want to block – you won't be able to opt out of all charity contact.
The aim of the FPS is to rebuild public trust in fundraising and to introduce more control over how people are approached by fundraisers. It's funded by charities themselves, with those that spend more on fundraising contributing more towards the service.
For more on the best way to give to charity see our Top Charity Giving Sites guide, and to find out more on how to protect yourself from all kinds of nuisance calls and junk mail, see our Stop Cold Callers guide.
How do I sign up?
From Thursday (6 July), you'll be able to register for the new service by entering your name and contact information on the FPS website, or calling 0300 3033 517.
You'll then have to identify the specific charities you no longer want to hear from. If you're doing this online, you can search for the charity using its name or registered charity number, which should be on its promotional material.
The FPS says you can block a maximum of three charities in any one online request, though if you want to block more you can submit a new request. This can be done the same day. Alternatively you can block as many as you like with one phone call.
Once you've provided all the relevant details and submitted your request, the FPS will send an automatic email to the charity or charities concerned, setting them a 28-day deadline to remove your details from direct marketing lists.
If you've opted out, it's been 28 days and you're then contacted by the charity you've blocked, you should tell the FPS. The FPS can report charities which fail to comply with the rules to the Information Commissioner's Office. It can ultimately prosecute them under the Data Protection Act and issue a fine of up to £25,000, though this would be a last resort.
If you donate to a charity while it's blocked from contacting you, that charity will have the right to "check in" with you to see if you're now happy to hear from it.
Do I need to sign up if registered with the Telephone Preference Service?
Yes – if you've given permission for charities to contact you in the past, it's worth signing up to the FPS even if you're already registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS).
The FPS will work alongside the TPS and Mail Preference Service (MPS), and there's some overlap because the TPS and MPS already block some charities from contacting you.
But if a charity has what's called "overriding consent" – for example, if you've explicitly given it permission to contact you at some point in the past – it can still contact you even if you are registered with the TPS or FPS.
Signing up to the FPS will end that overriding consent and mean it can no longer contact you for any reason. So if you want to opt out of as many unsolicited texts, emails, calls and pieces of junk mail as possible, it's best to sign up to all three services.
Response to 'high-profile tragedy'
The changes stem in part from 2015 when 92-year-old Olive Cooke, one of the UK's oldest and longest-serving poppy sellers, killed herself after receiving up to 267 letters a month from charities as well as regular phone calls.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on 4 July, Michael Grade, chairman of the FPS, said: "As a result of that high-profile tragedy it was clear that there was bad practice across many, many charities. The public are rejecting the idea that anybody is free to bombard them."