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Nuisance-call company bosses face massive fines

Robin Bowman

Robin Bowman
May 30, 2018


The heads of companies that pump out nuisance calls could face fines of up to £500,000 under government plans.

The proposal is to make bosses personally liable for the misery their companies cause.

There is currently an ongoing consultation regarding the plan, but insiders say it is likely to go ahead.

It was first put forward in 2016 and was supposed to be introduced by the following year.

Billions of calls

A staggering 3.9 billion nuisance calls and texts are made every year in the UK.

Currently, only companies themselves can be fined if they break the law, with fines of up to £500,000. But this allows an easy get out for the dodgy cold call centre companies, which are simply liquidated and then relaunched with a different name.

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) says it had collected only 54% of the £17.8m in fines that have been levied in the last eight years because some directors "try to escape paying penalties by declaring bankruptcy - only to open up again under a different name".

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In its consultation document, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) says it wants to give the ICO the "powers it needs to hold company directors directly responsible".

Margot James, minister for Digital and the Creative Industries, said: "Nuisance calls are a blight on society and we are determined to stamp them out.

"For too long a minority of company directors have escaped justice by liquidating their firms and opening up again under a different name."

ICO deputy commissioner Steve Wood backs the plan.

"We have been calling for a change to the law for a while to deter those who deliberately set out to disrupt people with troublesome calls, texts and emails.

"These proposed changes will increase the tools we have to protect the public."

The consultation closes in August.

How to deal with nuisance calls

    • Don’t be drawn into conversation, no matter how friendly the caller.
    • Do ask for your number to be removed from their database.
    • Do make the caller tell you which company they represent.
    • If you’re constantly bothered by these kind of calls, consider going x-directory, although this won’t necessarily stop them, it might help. 
    • Do end the call as soon as you have the above information.
    • Stay calm and reasonable, but be clear that you want them to stop calling and to remove your details from their records.
    • Refuse any personal information – and don’t be tricked into giving any ‘to confirm’ details.
    • Install caller id and don’t answer any you don’t recognise.
    • Don’t reply to texts from people you don’t know.
    • If you receive calls from the same people persistently, try and get the numbers of the callers and report them to the Information Commissioner’s Office.

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