Companies and their bosses face fines of up to £1 million for “plaguing” consumers with nuisance calls.
Estimates from Ofcom, the media regulator, showed that last year Britons were bombarded with 3.9 billion nuisance phone calls and texts.
At present, only the businesses themselves are liable for fines of up to £500,000 but now UK ministers are consulting on giving the country’s data watchdog, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), more powers to target the bosses themselves and make them personally liable with similar fines of up to another £500,000.
Some directors try to escape paying penalties by declaring bankruptcy, only to open up again under a different name.
Margot James, the Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries, said: “Nuisance calls are a blight on society and we are determined to stamp them out. 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.”
Last week, the ICO revealed that it had recovered just over half – 54 per cent – of the £17.8 million in fines issued for nuisance calls since 2010 as companies went into liquidation to avoid big penalties.
The Insolvency Service also has the power to disqualify people from boardrooms. Failure to adhere to this ruling could lead to a prison sentence.
In March, a Scottish firm was raided in connection with an investigation into 200 million nuisance calls, which put lives at risk on the UK rail network. And last month, two directors of a Glasgow-based home improvements firm, which made more than 2.5 million nuisance calls, were banned from running a company for six years.
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.
Lord Duncan, the UK Government Minister for Scotland, said: “Company bosses have been able to plague people with unsolicited calls for too long.”