The bosses of companies that make nuisance calls could be fined up to £500,000 under proposals to make them personally liable for breaking the law.
Currently only businesses are liable for fines of up to £500,000, and some directors try to avoid paying the penalty by declaring bankruptcy, only to open up again under a different name, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said.
Under new proposals, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) will be given stronger powers to hold company directors directly responsible with further fines of up to £500,000.
The ICO revealed last week that it had recovered 54 per cent of the £17.8m in fines issued for nuisance calls since 2010.
In a statement in October 2016, Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said making company directors responsible would stop them ‘ducking away from fines by putting their company into liquidation’.
She added: ‘We are inundated with complaints from people who are left shaken and distressed by the intrusion on their daily lives.
‘We’re quick to fine the companies responsible, but we’ve been speaking to the government about going further than that because we must do all we can to help protect people from these calls.’
In 2016/17, the Information Commissioner issued fines for nuisance marketing of more than £1.9m to 23 companies.
The latest proposals follow estimates by Ofcom suggesting that British consumers were bombarded with 3.9 billion nuisance phone calls and texts last year.
Margot James, minister for digital and the creative industries, said: ‘Nuisance calls are a blight on society and we are determined to stamp them out.
‘For too long a minority of company directors have escaped justice by liquidating their firms and opening up again under a different name.
‘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.’
The consultation closes in August.