Company bosses in all sectors, including the mobility industry, could be personally fined up to £500,000 if they continue to pepper people with unsolicited ‘cold calls’.
New measures have been brought in by the government to make directors personally liable if their firm breaks the law where cold calling is concerned.
The UK data protection watchdog revealed last week it had recovered half of the £18m in fines issued for nuisance calls since 2010, as companies go into liquidation to avoid big penalties.
This follows latest estimates by Ofcom showing British consumers were bombarded with nearly 4bn nuisance phone calls and texts last year.
As it stands, only the businesses themselves are liable for fines of up to £500,000, and some directors try to escape paying penalties by declaring bankruptcy – only to open up again under a different name. The Insolvency Service can also disqualify people from boardroom positions and failure to adhere to this ruling could lead to a prison sentence.
But new Government proposals being consulted on will provide the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) with the powers it needs to hold company directors directly responsible with further fines of up to £500,000.
Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries, Margot James, said that nuisance calls are a “blight on society” and insisted that the government wants 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 she needs to hold rogue bosses to account and put an end to these unwanted calls.”
Following a spate of industry cold calling reports last year, the BHTA’s director of governance and policy, Sarah Lepak, clarified where the trade body stands on the sales technique.
Meanwhile, Steve Wood, deputy commissioner at the Information Commissioner’s Office, welcomed the new proposals to tackle certain sales methods.
“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.
“The government has already made it easier for regulators to fine those breaching direct marketing rules, forced companies to display their number when calling customers and increased fines for wrongdoers.
“Ofcom data suggests this action is working. The total complaints made to the ICO and Ofcom about nuisance calls have fallen for the second year in a row.”
In addition to the new measures, Trading Standards has been given £500,000 to install call blocking devices installed in the homes of vulnerable people.