Action promised in bid to crack down on cold calling

Plans have been drawn up for tough new financial penalties aimed at clamping down on cold calls and nuisance texts.

Fines of up to £500,000 could be imposed under the proposals, which have been made amid rising numbers of complaints from people who have received uninitiated, unwanted and annoying sales pitches.

There is already a mechanism in place to deal with cold calls, but the Information Commissioner can impose fines only in certain circumstances – and even then, the bar is high in terms of proof.

However, the requirement to show that “substantial damage or substantial distress” has been caused will be removed from April, and that should make it easier for the Information Commissioner to pursue nuisance callers.

These calls and texts can result in mis-selling and rip-off deals, as well as causing worry and distress. Although it is hoped that the new rules will cut down on the volume of these calls, there are some things you can do immediately to reduce the number you receive.

For starters, visit the Telephone Preference Service’s website ( and register your phone number there. This might not stop the most unscrupulous of rogue traders who probably don’t care what rules they break, but any half-reputable company will not call any numbers that are on the TPS’s list.

Meanwhile, a growing number of people screen their calls. According to the Debt Advisory Centre (DAC), half of us answer calls only from those numbers we recognise, and 20% of us have barred certain numbers from our phones.

There can be several reasons for this, but more than 80% of those who bar numbers do so to avoid salespeople, research by the DAC showed.