Calls to tighten marketing laws to spare the bereaved

An Angus politician has written to the UK government asking for regulations to be reviewed to stop the “distress” of bereaved families receiving marketing letters addressed to deceased loved ones.

Angus South SNP MSP Graeme Dey has written to Parliamentary Under Secretary of State Kelly Tolhurst MP, following the introduction of data protection legislation this year which states that “every reasonable step must be taken” to ensure customer data is accurate and kept up to date.

Angus South MSP Graeme Dey said: “For someone trying to pick up the pieces after a bereavement, receiving mail addressed to a late relative can be a hugely distressing experience — especially as we approach the festive season.

“Whilst The Deceased Preference Service offers a way for companies to ensure that they don’t send out circular mailings to those who have passed away, it is not compulsory.

“I would commend those firms who diligently maintain their mailing lists to avoid these situations, but it is clear there is a huge room for improvement.

“I have written to the UK Government asking that it reviews the regulations regarding this matter so as to ensure that this practice is minimised as much as is practicable.”

Research by the Deceased Preference Service (DPS) who hold a register of those who have passed on which can be accessed by marketing firms, has shown that almost a quarter of UK adults receive direct mail addressed to a deceased family member or friend each year.


Graeme Dey MSP.

On top of this, on average, the bereaved receive 15 pieces of direct mail addressed to the deceased per year.

Karen Pritchard, director of the DPS said: “When you are bereaved, receiving mail in the name of someone that has passed away can be devastating.

“You only need to pick up a paper to read about how often it happens, and for the people that are left behind it is incredibly distressing.

“However, with the new data protection rules more and more organisations are committed to stopping this insensitive practice, therefore signing up someone that has passed away to the Deceased Preference Service is a quick and easy way to protect yourself from further heartache.”

“Ideally, businesses should update their customer data every month, which should include removing the details of those who have passed away.”