Don’t let them off the hook: make cold call bosses accountable

Which? is calling for directors of companies that bombard households with nuisance calls to be held personally liable and hit with huge fines, as new research shows the majority of people are still being plagued by unsolicited calls.

The scale of nuisance calling continues to be a big problem in the UK, with more than seven in 10 (73%) people believing they’ve received an unsolicited marketing or sales call in the last month.

And around eight in 10 (83%) people that Which? spoke to, felt that cold calls were an intrusive interruption to their daily life.

Nuisance calls can also have a significant emotional impact on the people targeted, with two in five (41%) of those surveyed telling the consumer champion they felt intimidated and another two in five (40%) saying they felt distressed by unsolicited phone calls.

Almost eight in 10 (77%) people told Which? that they were discouraged from picking up phone calls from unknown numbers altogether – potentially missing out on important calls from family members or other legitimate sources.

Under the current rules, enforcement action can only be taken against the company itself, rather than any company directors.

Many organisations that are penalised try to wriggle out of paying financial penalties by dissolving the company – only to sidestep the law by setting up again under a different name.

As the consultation on taking action against directors that breach regulations closes today, Which? is calling on the UK Government to seize the opportunity to finally make the bosses of firms responsible personally accountable for nuisance calls.

Which? has campaigned to end nuisance calls and texts since 2013, including leading the UK Government’s nuisance calls taskforce which produced 15 recommendations to help reduce the incidence of nuisance calls and texts received by consumers.

While progress has been made, more can still be done.


Alex Neill, Which? Managing Director of Home Products and Services, said:

“It’s time to stem the tide of this daily torment and properly hold to account company directors who are responsible for flouting the law. We must stop them from bombarding households with nuisance calls.

“The Government must seize this opportunity and act swiftly to deliver on its promise to stamp out dodgy practices and make sure that those responsible for making nuisance calls can no longer evade justice and skip fines.”



Note to editors:

  • In August 2018, Populus, on behalf of Which?, surveyed 2,093 residents of the UK online. Data were weighted to be representative of age and gender of residents in the UK.
  • Which? has campaigned to end nuisance calls and texts since 2013, including leading the UK Government’s nuisance calls taskforce which produced 15 recommendations. Progress has been made on Which?’s calls, with the UK Government reducing the legal threshold for the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) to act and issue firms with fines of up to £500,000 in April 2015.
  • In January 2016, the UK Government also made it mandatory for marketing firms to provide a valid phone number that can be displayed.
  • One of the recommendations made in Which?’s taskforce report for the UK Government was to review the ability of the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) to hold to account board-level executives who fail to comply with the rules on the use of consumers’ personal data for marketing purposes, and amend legislation to give the ICO further powers as necessary. This recommendation is yet to be enacted.

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