Curbs on cold-calling

Cold calling by telephone sales companies could face tough curbs under proposals unveiled yesterday by Oftel, the phones watchdog and the Data Protection Registrar.

The rapid growth of telemarketing, increasingly acknowledged by big companies as the most effective way of connecting with potential customers, was blamed as one reason for a surge in the numbers of homes opting to become ex-directory.

Companies would have to sign a legally enforceable code of practice where homes could only be "cold called" if they had raised no objection beforehand.