Business editor’s comment

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HAVING just seen the BBC’s latest Panorama programme on scam cold calling, I’ve been left in no doubt the government needs to take action urgently.

This is a huge issue that impacts on all our lives, from the relatively minor hassle of receiving a raft of unsolicited business calls at work (which both myself and many of my colleagues across the Observer are plagued by on a weekly basis) through to high-level fraud from a number of companies operating across the south east through unwanted pressured phone sales tactics, it seems this is something that can no longer be swept under the carpet as a mild irritation. It costs many people a huge amount of physical and mental stress.

Incredibly, it emerged that despite up to 2,000 companies a month across the country being reported to the Telephone Preference Service, which is supposed to effectively keep more than 17 million phone numbers safe, not a single direct prosecution resulted. Consequently, unscrupulous traders who give the direct marketing industry an especially bad name are able to quite easily make the judgement they can carry on flouting the law with impunity.

When will we see some genuine political action on this? It’s an issue that cuts across all parties and in many people’s eyes is right up there on a par with mushrooming of TV advertising payday loan companies, which unsurprisingly are not keen to advertise the fact that in many instances their interest rates are at staggering levels of more than 1,000 per cent. This underlines the fact many people feel trading laws need to be tightened considerably.