A record 180,000 cold calling complaints were made to the Information Commissioner’s Office in 2014/15, and ministers want to bring an end to anonymous calls to make it easier for the ICO to investigate firms who repeatedly bombard consumers with nuisance calls.
A consultation is to be launched later this week, and any change in the law is expected to come into force in the spring. The new law would apply to UK companies that have call centres based at home as well as abroad.
Baroness Neville-Rolfe, the Minister responsible for data protection, said: “Being pestered by marketing calls is annoying at the best of times and at its worst it can bring real misery for the people on the receiving end.
“There is no simple solution to the problem of nuisance calls, but making direct marketing companies display their telephone number will help consumers and regulators take action.
“Companies are already being financially punished when they blatantly flout the rules, and mandatory caller ID is just another step we are taking as part of a closely coordinated effort with regulators, industry and consumer groups to tackle the problem.”
One in five direct marketing calls are from hidden or false phone numbers, and it is hoped that forcing companies to display their phone number will also make it easier for recipients to decide whether or not they wish to answer the call.
“We’re driving a major crackdown on nuisance calls,” said a government source.
“The proposed law change will mean an end to anonymous calls.”