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Jean-Yves Gilg

Editor, Solicitors Journal

Cold callers to display phone numbers in government crackdown

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Cold callers to display phone numbers in government crackdown

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We're sending a clear message to rogue companies, says government minister

Cold callers will no longer be able to hide or disguise their phone numbers as new rules crack down on nuisance calls.

Baroness Neville Rolfe, the minister responsible for data protection, has confirmed that direct marketing companies registered in the UK will need to display their phone numbers when making unsolicited phone calls - even if their call centres are based abroad.

The move follows a public consultation and extensive work with regulators, industry, and consumer groups.

'Nuisance calls are incredibly intrusive and can cause significant harm to elderly and vulnerable members of society,' said Baroness Rolfe. 'Government is committed to tackling this problem, which is why we are making it easier for consumers to report companies by forcing them to display their phone numbers.'

'We're sending a clear message to rogue direct marketing companies. Nuisance calls are unacceptable and we will not hesitate to take action against the companies behind them.'

The move follows news that a substantial number of fines totalling £895,000 have been issued by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO).

In 2015, the government made it easier to fine nuisance callers by removing the need for consumers to prove that unwanted marketing calls caused distress and damage.

Companies can risk fines of up to £2m from Ofcom and a further £500,000 from the ICO if they continue to bombard consumers with unwanted calls.

ICO Head of Enforcement, Steve Eckersley welcomed the move: 'Any change that make it easier for us to track down and take action against companies making nuisance calls is a change that will reduce the annoyance these calls cause.'

The executive director of Which?, Richard Lloyd, said: 'This is another important victory in the fight against nuisance calls. With marketing firms now being forced to display their numbers when making calls, it will make it much easier for people to report them and enforcement action to be taken when companies break the law.'

Commenting on the new rules, Jonathan White, director of legal at National Accident Helpline - a signatory of the Ethical Marketing Charter - also supported to move, but added that effectively tackling the issue would require a 'proactive approach not only from government and regulators but industries and individual business themselves'.

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