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Nuisance call bosses to face fines of £500,000

Monday, October 24th 2016 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

Company bosses responsible for making nuisance phone calls could be hit with fines up to £500,000 when tough new rules come into force next year.

From Spring 2017, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) will have the power to hold company the directors of companies breaking the law directly responsible.

Previously only businesses were liable for fines, with many attempting to dodge financial penalties by declaring bankruptcy and opening back up under another name.

It is hoped the new rules will stop that happening and if a company has multiple directors, each could be liable for a fine.

Information commissioner Elizabeth Denham said: “The people running nuisance call companies have 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.

“We’re quick to fine the companies responsible, but we’ve been speaking to the government about going further than that because we must do all we can to help protect people from these calls.

“Making directors responsible will stop them ducking away from fines by putting their company into liquidation. It will stop them leaving by the back door as the regulator comes through the front door.”

The ICO has issued fines totalling almost £3.7m to companies responsible for nuisance marketing. This year, more than 114,000 nuisance calls and texts have been reported to the information watchdog.

'A blight on society'

Digital minister Matt Hancock said: “Nuisance callers are a blight on society, causing significant distress to elderly and vulnerable people.

“We have been clear that we will not stand for this continued harassment, and this latest amendment to the law will strike another blow to those businesses and company bosses responsible.”

Earlier this year, the government said it would make it a legal requirement for telemarketing companies to display their phone number on caller ID.

The change was designed to make it easier for consumers to reject and report unwanted calls and for the ICO to investigate and take action against companies breaking the rules.

The government has also made it easier for the ICO to rogue callers by removing the legal threshold for taking action and made it easier for the ICO to share nuisance calls information with Ofcom.

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