Taking action against nuisance phone calls

We’ve all received nuisance calls from somebody trying to sell us something we don’t want. While in isolation we can just hang up and carry on with the rest of our lives, in cases where calls are received by vulnerable people, either on a one off basis or continually, they can place a real strain.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) have announced plans to close a loophole so that the bosses of companies responsible for these nuisance calls could be fined up to £500,000 as part of proposals to make them personally liable if their company breaks the law.

At present, it’s the businesses themselves which are liable to pay this fine. There have been instances of directors seeking to evade the law by declaring bankruptcy – therefore avoiding paying penalties – then setting up a business again under a new brand name.

In addition, the Insolvency Service can disqualify people from a role in the boardroom, with failure to adhere to the ruling leading potentially to a prison sentence.

While £17.8 million of fines have been issued for nuisance calls since 2010, just over half that amount has actually been recovered as a result of companies choosing liquidation over paying the penalty. Ofcom estimates show that British consumers were hit with 3.9 billion nuisance phone calls and texts last year.

DCMS have launched a public consultation on this issue; the responses will help the Government assess the necessity and impacts of any changes.

By giving the Information Commissioner greater powers, they will be able to hold devious bosses to account. For too long a minority of company directors have escaped justice. Nuisance calls are a blight on our society and these new measures will help bring an end to them.

Henry Smith MP