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Public given increased protection from nuisance calls

Rule-breaking cold callers could be hit with a hefty £500,000 fine

New measures taking effect from today mean that cold calls offering to settle personal injury claims will be banned if the recipient has not chosen to ‘opt-in’ to receive them.

These changes should improve matters for those pestered by constant nuisance calls and will also hit claims management companies trying to help people reclaim mis-sold PPI.

A statement issued by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) confirmed the move. Until now, consumers have had to ‘opt-out’ of receiving these calls.

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Punishments for ‘cold call sharks’

With these changes in place, companies will have to check that they have your consent before calling you. Going against this rule could see rogue companies hit with fines of up to £500,000 from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

According to the Financial Conduct Authority, billions of nuisance calls have been recorded over the past year. It estimates that the total number is equivalent to around 50 calls, texts or emails being made to every member of the adult population.

In a statement discussing the changes, Minister for Digital Margot James said: ‘Our new laws mean people will now have to give consent to receive calls and have the power to choose where they seek compensation for personal injury claims or mis-sold payment protection insurance.

‘This is a big boost for the Information Commissioner’s Office and will help them crack down on the cold call sharks.’

As the battle against nuisance calls rages on, the government is taking steps to help all those affected. Most notably, it has consulted on new measures to fine company bosses and make them personally liable if their firm breaks the law.

The government has also given £500,000 to Trading Standards to fund the installation of call-blocking phones in the homes of vulnerable people.

Which? responds

Alex Neill, Which? Managing Director of Home Products and Services, said: ‘Nuisance calls have plagued millions for years and our research revealed more than seven in 10 believe they received unsolicited calls last month.

‘While the new rules are welcome, they must be enforced to stop companies flouting the law with these dodgy practices. The government must also urgently deliver on its promise to hold those responsible personally accountable.’

How to stop nuisance calls

Last month, we surveyed more than 2,000 people to find out about their experiences with nuisance calls.

Seven in ten people said they had been bothered by at least one unsolicited call in the past month. One in seventeen had been scammed by a cold caller.

One consumer told us: ‘I’ve had at least 10 nuisance calls in the past fortnight; each one asking for my husband. Some of them were saying he’d had an accident recently.

‘My husband died a year ago and before that had been in a nursing home for four years. These calls are upsetting and I think the companies should be fined as well as the companies that sell your information.’

If you’re plagued with unwanted calls, report those responsible. The list of people you can inform includes the Telephone Preference Service (TPS), your phone operator, Ofcom and the ICO.

For details on reporting nuisance calls and installing call-blocking technology, see our expert guide on how to stop nuisance calls.

And if you’re looking to pick up a new cordless phone, check our cordless phone reviews to find the handsets which impress in our tough call blocking tests.

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