Consumers plagued by nuisance calls will be given further protection under new measures announced by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS).
The plans, which are under consultation until August, include proposals for fines of up to half a million pounds for bosses, making them personally liable for nuisance phone calls from their companies.
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Current rules only allow for businesses to be fined up to £500,000. This leads to directors liquidating companies when they’re found guilty of nuisance calling and fined. While the Insolvency Service can disqualify people from boardroom positions, this new rule is an attempt by the government to fully close the loophole that stops individuals from being punished fully.
The DCMS says more than half (54%) of £17.8 million in fines issued against nuisance call companies are dodged as bosses liquidate firms to avoid paying.
Figures from telecoms regulator Ofcom suggest that consumers are plagued by 3.9 billion nuisance calls each year.
Minister for digital and the creative industries Margot James says: “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.
“We want to make sure the Information Commissioner has the powers needed to hold rogue bosses to account and put an end to these unwanted calls.”
Steve Wood, deputy commissioner (executive director for policy) at the Information Commissioner’s Office, adds: “We welcome these proposals from the government to make directors themselves responsible for nuisance marketing.
“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.”
However, the DCMS says there is no set timeline for implementation of the measures.