Cold callers will have to show you their number, or face a hefty fine

Starting May 16

The UK Government is to crack down on cold callers, announcing today that companies that carry out unsolicited phone calls will be fined if they do not display their number.

From May 16, companies will face a £2 million fine from Ofcom if they don't display their digits, and possibly a further £500,000 from the Information Commissioner's Office.

The new rule, which is being announced today, will be a significant step to combating an estimated 4.8 billion nuisance calls in the UK each year (according to Ofcom).

Cause of harm

Baroness Neville-Rolfe, the Minister for Intellectual Property, said: "Nuisance calls are incredibly intrusive and can cause significant harm to elderly and vulnerable members of society.

"We're sending a clear message to rogue direct marketing companies. Nuisance calls are unacceptable and we will not hesitate to take action against the companies behind them." The new law will also apply to companies that are calling from abroad.

Last year, a change in law made it easier for the Information Commissioner's Office to dish out fines to companies that made a serious breach of the law when it comes to cold calling.

Since then, it says, it has issued fines totaling more than £2m; during the 12 months before the law was changed, just £360,000 in fines was issued.