Directors of nuisance call companies are facing fines of up to £500,000 under new government plans to reduce the problem. These changes to the law are set to take effect in spring 2017 and it will see directors become personally liable for breaches of the regulations.
Currently, these businesses can only be fined when they ignore rules on cold-calling. However, a major issue is that many shut down the company before facing the consequences and open up in a new name. The companies who are the most common offenders for nuisance calls are those helping to reclaim mis-sold payment protection insurance (PPI) and accident claim companies.
These new changes will let the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) impose penalties of up to £1m on company directors and their businesses, if they are found to have breached Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations. Consumer group Which? said these changes were ‘a massive victory’.
To date, fines issued by the ICO total almost £3.7m to the companies behind nuisance calls and spam text messages. Speaking to the BBC, Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham spoke about the companies behind the calls having; “little regard for the anxiety and upset they cause all in the name of turning a fast profit… We are inundated with complaints from people who are left shaken and distressed by the intrusion on their daily lives,”
Managing director of home and legal services at Which?, Alex Neill, who campaigned on the issue said; “the government has listened to consumers… This legislation will stop rogues dodging fines for bombarding consumers with nuisance calls and side-stepping the rules by closing one business and re-establishing a new one.”
In their article, the BBC put together a list of dos and don’ts when it comes to dealing with cold callers, these are:
- See if you can be made ex-directory by checking with your phone provider
- Ask cold calling companies to remove your information from their records.
- Dial 1471, from your landline, after the call to find out the caller’s number.
- Lose your temper with the callers, be firm in your tone and hang up if the caller refuses to go away.
- Call back phone numbers you don’t recognise left on your voicemail or reply to text messages/emails you don’t recognise.
- Give away any personal or financial information even if the caller claims to be from a company you know.
If you experience cold calling regularly and you would like some help on how to deal with it, get in touch with Which? as soon as possible to discuss your issues and get the help you need.