Commission issues warning after cold-calling complaints

The Charity Commission has taken down a warning on its website about charities being cold called by an international credit ratings agency following assurances by the company that the calls had been made due to an administrative error.

The Commission received more than a dozen complaints on Wednesday afternoon from charities claiming to have been telephoned by researchers at Dun & Bradstreet. According to the charities, the researchers said they were helping the the commission to update its records, but then proceeded to offer help with finding funding partners or financial services.

The message on the commission’s website read: “Charity trustees and correspondents should be aware that the commission has NOT commissioned these calls and they are not being made on our behalf.”

Roger Hodson, marketing manager at Dun & Bradstreet, said the calls had been made due to an oversight.

“We keep details of 125 million businesses around the world and each year we make more than a million calls to make sure our records are up to date,” he said. “We usually exclude charities from these calls, but somehow we haven’t suppressed the charities’ names on this occasion and we offer our sincerest apologies for that.”

Hodson said the company was “absolutely not” calling on behalf of the commission and denied that any phone operators had claimed to be doing so.

He said: "I have listened to many of the tapes of the calls and there is no evidence that anybody gave any indication we were calling from the Charity Commission."

The commission had previously received similar assurances from a member of Dun & Bradstreet’s customer service team.

Sush Amar, communications manager at the commission, told Third Sector: “A man who gave his name as ‘Ramesh C’ called me and assured me that he had listened to all the calls made and that there was no mention of the Charity Commission in any of them. I pointed out that it was unlikely a dozen individual trustees would spontaneously call our contact centre to check whether Dun & Bradstreet were making calls on our behalf. So we ended up in a stalemate.”

However, she said she was satisfied with the company's response and removed the warning earlier today. She said: "D & B have taken the action needed swiftly and been good at keeping us informed."

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