Cold call crackdown: UK companies that harass customers could face fines of up to £500,000 due to law change

Companies behind cold calling and nuisance text messages can fines of up to £500,000 imposed more easily due to a law change.

Under current legislation the calls need to meet the criteria of causing a ‘substantial damage or substantial distress’, however from April 6 that legal requirement will be removed.

The move follows 175,000 complaints received by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) in 2014 and the subsequent six-week public consultation into lowering the legal threshold.

Freddie Stabb, 39, of Chelsea is inundated with cold calls each week and believes that someone has sold her contact details on to companies.

She said: “I get them (cold calls) all the time and most days on mobile and house phone and my house phone is ex directory.

“I think the companies who sell my number should be fined – there should be a law against selling phone numbers.”

Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy Ed Vaizey said: “For far too long companies have bombarded people with unwanted marketing calls and texts, and escaped punishment because they did not cause enough harm.

“This change will make it easier for the Information Commissioner’s Office to take action against offenders and send a clear message to others that harassing consumers with nuisance calls or texts is just not on.”

Richard Lloyd, executive director of consumer watchdog, Which? chaired the consultation and referred to the calls as an ‘everyday menace blighting the lives of millions’.

Picture courtesy of Gerald Pingol, with thanks

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