THE first scheme to tackle nuisance and cold-callers has been announced by the Government, with heavy fines planned for repeat offenders.

The Nuisance Calls Action Plan, unveiled by Culture Secretary Maria Miller today (Sunday, March 30), aims to clamp down on unscrupulous businesses who target people’s homes at all times of the day.

The issue of nuisance calls gained prominence earlier this year after thousands of people across the North-East and North Yorkshire were repeatedly targeted with late night cold-calls.

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North East MPs Pat Glass and Helen Goodman led calls for something to be done to tackle the problem, each saying it was one of the main issues brought to them by their constituents.

The action plan announced by the government will see consultation on lowering the threshold for when action can be taken against firms making nuisance calls, which would make it easier for sanctions to be imposed.

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling has also announced plans to impose fines of hundreds of thousands of pounds on claims management companies that use information gathered by unsolicited calls and texts to target customers.

Mrs Miller said: “Nuisance calls must stop. At best they are an irritation and an unwanted intrusion, at worst they cause real distress and fear, particularly to the elderly or housebound.

“People need to feel safe and secure in their homes. The rules are clear – people have the right to choose not to receive unsolicited marketing calls. We will work to ensure their choice is respected.”

The Information Commissioner’s Officer, the regulator responsible for unsolicited marketing calls, received 120,310 complaints between April and November 2013.

Legally, unsolicited live direct marketing calls cannot be made to a number that is registered with the Telephone Preference Service, unless the person has agreed to receive calls by that company.