Bosses of companies behind nuisance calls could face fines of up to £500,000 under a government move to clamp down on the behaviour.
Firms could already be fined if they breached rules, but bosses could attempt to dodge the penalty and set up a new company.
From next spring, a change in the law will mean directors will be held personally responsible and fined, along with the company, with combined penalties of up to £1 million.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) will impose the fines if the firms and bosses are found to be breaching the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations.
The move has been welcomed by the information watchdog, while consumer group Which? called it a “massive victory”.
Digital and Culture Minister Matt Hancock said: “Nuisance callers are a blight on society, causing significant distress to elderly and vulnerable people.
“We have been clear that we will not stand for this continued harassment and this latest amendment to the law will strike another blow to those businesses and company bosses responsible.”
Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said: “We are inundated with complaints from people who are left shaken and distressed by the intrusion on their daily lives.
“Making directors responsible will stop them ducking away from fines by putting their company into liquidation. It will stop them leaving by the back door as the regulator comes through the front door.”
The ICO has issued fines to the tune of almost £3.7 million to firms that use spam texts and nuisance calls.