We’ve all had them: you’re in the middle of watching the football and you get an anonymous phone call. You answer to discover it’s either a recorded message informing you that you’re entitled to get a PPI refund or a marketing agency trying to sell you something you don’t need.
It’s the bane of many people’s lives, which is why it’s great to hear the government has decided to crack down on cold callers by threatening to impose fines of up to £500,000 on the companies behind the calls and nuisance text messages.
I’ve lost count of the number of complaints I’ve had from residents about this. The issue is particularly acute for the elderly and housebound as such calls can understandably cause distress and anxiety, so it goes without saying that I warmly welcome any move to impose tougher measures on the board level executives responsible for sanctioning these calls and texts.
At present these companies can only be punished if the Information Commissioner can demonstrate that a call caused "substantial damage or substantial distress". This is a ludicrous standard to judge these calls against - we all know most of us simply won’t bother reporting them, just hanging up the phone in annoyance, and they are then free to carry on without recourse for their actions.
Thankfully from 6th April this year that legal requirement will be removed.
The current law was described by the Information Commissioner Christopher Graham as "a licence for spammers and scammers". Now we’ve changed that we might finally be able to watch the footie in relative peace…