Companies which target people with cold-calls and nuisance texts could be hit with fines of up to £500,000, the government has announced.
Changes to current laws which come into effect in April will give watchdogs more power to pursue serial cold-calling firms.
Ministers are also considering introducing rules so marketing callers have to display their telephone numbers, as well as proposals to hold company bosses accountable for nuisance calls.

As many as four out of five people regularly receive cold calls at home, with around one third reporting they are left feeling intimidated, according to research by consumer group Which?.
Over 175,000 complaints over cold calls and nuisance texts were made to the ICO last year, with 2,377 relating to solar panel calls and 1,830 to PPI claims.
But as prevention is better than a cure, here are some tips on how to reduce the number of nuisance calls you receive in the first place.
  • Register with the Telephone Preference Service.
    This free service stops UK-based companies from making unsolicited sales and marketing calls, even if they have an overseas call centre. However, it does not stop calls from firms based abroad, market research, or contact from companies with which you have "opted in" for updates.
  • Call 0845 070 0707 or go to the TPS website to register.
  • Remove your number from the phone book
  • Going ex-directory will prevent firms which try their luck with customers by running down the online or paper phone book.
  • Don’t give your number to companies
  • Make sure you notify companies that you do not want them to call you if you are signing up to a new service or buying a product, by checking for ‘opt out/opt in’ boxes on forms, or telling them outright.
  • The Data Protection Act means it is illegal for firms to make marketing calls if you have specifically requested that they don’t.
  • If you forget to opt out of contact and are plagued by calls, firms have an obligation to listen if you tell them to stop.
  • Use a call blocker
Devices, including the CPR Call Blocker and the TrueCall Call Blocker, are plugged directly into your home phone and automatically screen calls.
Handsets such as the BT6500, which allows users to select the type of numbers they want to block including premium, mobile and international calls, are also helpful.
Tell nuisance callers to stop
Ask cold callers to remove your information from their records. However, do not give your personal or finance information away, even if the company claims to know you.
Block international numbers.

As many firms have call centres based abroad, asking your phone operator to block international numbers can prevent cold calls. This method is less convenient for people who often call and receive international calls.
Use your smartphone's functions

iPhones running on the iOS 7 operating system and above allow users to simply open a contact card and selecting Block Contact.

Functions on Android devices vary, but most can download apps such as Call Blocker.
Websites such as are also helpful, allowing you to screen calls yourself and blocking unwelcome numbers.