New measures have been introduced to protect households from the misery of nuisance calls.
People will now have the choice to opt-in to be contacted by companies offering to settle personal injury or payment protection insurance claims.
Rogue companies that break the rules could be fined up to £500,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office.
Previously, people had to opt-out of receiving such calls by registering with the free Telephone Preference Service or withdraw their consent while on the call.
The new powers will force the caller to check they have the household’s consent before they make the call.
The Financial Conduct Authority says that in the last 12 months, around 2.7 billion unsolicited calls, texts and emails were made to people offering to help them make a claim.
This is equivalent to approximately 50 calls, texts or emails being made to every member of the adult population.
Margot James, the Minister for Digital and Creative Industries, says: “Today we are one step closer to ending the menace of nuisance calls. Our new laws mean people will now have to give consent to receive calls and have the power to choose where they seek compensation for personal injury claims or mis sold payment protection insurance.
“This is a big boost for the Information Commissioner’s Office and will help them crack down on the cold call sharks.”
Andy Curry, enforcement group manager at the Information Commissioner’s Office, adds: “Millions of nuisance calls, texts and emails are made every year in the UK and can cause real distress to people.
“This amendment to the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations bill will increase our ability to take action against those companies who deliberately flout the law and cause real upset and harm.”
Last year, the ICO issued 26 penalties totalling £3.28 million for breaches of electronic marketing laws relating to nuisance calls and spam text messages, along with 10 enforcement notices.
The government has previously made it easier for regulators to fine those breaching direct marketing rules by forcing companies to display their number when calling customers and increasing fines for wrongdoers.
It has also consulted on new measures to fine bosses of companies which plague people with unsolicited nuisance calls up to half a million pounds under new proposals to make them personally liable if their firm breaks the law.