Cold calling is that pushiest type of salesmanship, disruptive, unsolicited, inconvenient and intrusive. We all have stories. The endless PPI pitches, the ambulance-chasing legal firms and so on and so on.
Estimates by Ofcom suggest we were bombarded with three point nine billion nuisance phone calls and texts last year. More than half the population says that they have been disturbed during the night by cold callers – and about two fifths of the country has at some point unplugged their landline to prevent cold callers getting through.
Some people laugh this off by trying to wind up the caller or competing with friends to see how long they can keep the conversation going before the cold caller hangs up on them. However, the calls can cause real distress and fear. In the worst instances conmen use cold calling to perpetrate scams and pray on the elderly and the vulnerable.
I’ve been contacted by a number of constituents who are utterly fed up with the number of calls they receive from these companies so I’m delighted that the Government is strengthening the law to end this practice.
The Digital Minister, Margot James, has introduced new measures to target the bosses of companies which bother people with unsolicited nuisance calls. Crucially, the new proposals will make them personally liable if their firm breaks the law.
There is a system of fines currently in place but, as it stands, only the businesses themselves are liable, and some directors escape paying by declaring bankruptcy - only to open up again under a different name and carry on pestering people. Thanks to the changes coming in, those bosses will be personally on the hook for up to £500,000 if their company breaks the law.
As from now, there is no equivocation - nuisance calls are a blight on society and we are determined to go after the people who are behind them.