Company bosses face £500,000 fines for nuisance calls

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Bosses of companies that plague people with unsolicited nuisance calls could be fined as much as £500,000 under new proposals to make them personally liable if their firm breaks the law.

The government is consulting on the proposals that will provide the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) with the power to hold company directors directly responsible for nuisance calls with further fines of up to £500,000. The consultation closes in August.

They follow the cold calling ban on claims management companies introduced through the Financial Claims and Guidance Act, which received royal assent last month. The measure fell short of a total ban, however, as it does not extend to situations where the receiver has consented to such calls being made to them.

The penalties for unsolicited nuisance calls require strengthening because the ICO has recovered just over half (54%) of the £17.8 million in fines issued for nuisance calls since 2010, as companies are going into liquidation to avoid big penalties.

This follows estimates that British consumers were bombarded with 3.9 billion nuisance phone calls and texts last year.

Margot James, minister for digital and the creative industries, said: “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.”

Steve Wood of the ICO said: “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.”

Commenting on the proposals, James Dalton, director of general insurance policy at the Association of British Insurers, said: “Tougher action against the scourge of nuisance calls cannot come soon enough. People have had enough of being bombarded by nuisance calls, often from claims management companies encouraging claims for whiplash-related injuries, that ultimately end up being paid for by honest motorists through higher insurance premiums. It’s time to end the nuisance call nightmare.”

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Mark Dugdale is the editor of Claims Media. Mark welcomes articles, letters or feedback from readers and can be reached via mark.dugdale@barkerbrooks.co.uk