Cold callers could now be fined up to £500,000, thanks to new government action to crack down on outbound call operators.

Following a six week public consultation, the government is now giving the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) the power to intervene in more cases, coming into effect from 6 April 2015. It will also be looking at introducing measures to hold board level executives responsible for nuisance calls and texts.

Ed Vaizey, digital economy minister, said: “For far too long companies have bombarded people with unwanted marketing calls and tests, and escaped punishment because they did not cause enough harm.”

allDayPA answering service, which has answered over 85m calls since 1999 on behalf of over 23,000 businesses, has said that some companies are being targeting with as many as 30 cold calls a day.

David Joseph, board executive at allDayPA, said: ““The number of cold-callers targeting businesses is out of control and has become a real drain on the time and resources especially for smaller companies and home businesses.”

Linda Williams of Broadway Convenience Store in Edinburgh said cold calling was a major issue for her: “They begin at about 10am in the morning and are relentless throughout the day, and it’s always the same people,” she added.

“They are a real distraction for the business because we have to stop what we’re doing and answer the phone; it’s a complete waste of time.” She felt her store would not benefit from a call answering service as she said those who use them haven’t found them advantageous.

Research from Ofcom has shown that telephone preference services have become largely ineffective, reducing unwanted calls on average by only 35%.