Cold callers who continue to bombard people with unwanted calls from withheld numbers could face fines of up to £2.5 million following the Government's introduction of new laws.
As part of a major crackdown on nuisance calls, new rules come into force on 16 May that mean direct marketing companies registered in the UK will need to display their phone numbers when making unsolicited calls – even if their call centres are based overseas.
Companies that ignore the reworked laws risk fines of up to £2 million from Ofcom and a further £500,000 from the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO).
For more information on how to stop spam calls, texts and mail, check out our No More Junk guide.
The changes follow widespread support in a public consultation and work with regulators, industry and consumer groups.
Official confirmation of the change to existing legislation is expected to be delivered today by the minister responsible for data protection, Baroness Neville Rolfe.
She says: "Nuisance calls are incredibly intrusive and can cause significant harm to elderly and vulnerable members of society.
"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."
How will this new measure be enforced?
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport, which is behind this amendment to existing legislation, says the change will ensure the ICO can investigate and take enforcement action against callers who persistently and deliberately break the rules.
If you continue to receive cold calls from withheld numbers you should record the time of day you received the call and its duration and report the details to the ICO by calling 0303 123 1113. More information can be found on the ICO's website.
A Government spokesperson told MoneySavingExpert: "If marketing companies continue to call from withheld numbers then they are breaking the law. The ICO has powers to track numbers down even if they're not displayed."
Meanwhile, if you're receiving unwanted texts from marketing companies you can notify the ICO by forwarding the text to 7726 (SPAM).
What else can I do to stop spam calls?
It is illegal for a UK firm to call any individual who has indicated they don't want sales calls. If you don't want to receive marketing calls, join the Telephone Preference Service register. Once registered, it takes about 28 days for calls to stop.
If you're getting silent calls, which can be generated by automatic equipment in call centres, register with the SilentCall-Gard service. It has a database of UK companies using the equipment and makes it clear to them that you've requested not to be called, although you must remember to renew it every 12 months.
If silent calls continue, you can complain to Ofcom, which can fine companies up to £2 million.
For a full list of who to complain to about different types of nuisance calls and messages, see the Ofcom website.
What else is being done to stop cold callers in their tracks?
This latest move by the Government, which follows news that fines totalling £895,000 have been issued by the ICO to date, comes hot on the heels of an earlier clampdown last year.
MSE previously reported that as of 6 April 2015 customers no longer had to prove that unwanted marketing calls were causing substantial distress and damage in order to escalate the complaint.