Fraud, using telemarketing has flourished as the number of marketing calls and text calls has climbed to more than16 million a day, according to a recent Panorama documentary.

Frauds include land banking scams whereby plots of land worth £75 are aggressively sold to the vulnerable for £20,000 and up as “investment”, and computer scams where callers claim to be working on behalf of Microsoft and that there is something wrong with the victim’s computer, that they can fix for a fee.

The programme also featured examples of unethical marketing where ambulance-chasing solicitors pay commissions to telemarketing companies drumming up compensation claim business for them by lying to victims, and loan companies using premium rate telephone lines to milk £1.50 a minute and keeping victims on the phone for 30 minutes or more.

The Telephone Preference Service run by the Direct Marketing Association has more than 17 million subscribers, many of whom still get marketing calls from companies based overseas, or simply flouting the law. And despite more than 2,000 complaints a month about marketing malpractice there have been no prosecutions due to the fact that the Information Commissioner has only recently been given the power to prosecute.

A much-needed clean-up of the sector is a long time coming.

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