Bosses of firms which bombard people with nuisance calls could be fined up to £500,000 under government proposals to make them personally liable.
Consumers received 3.9 billion nuisance phone calls and texts last year.
At the moment, only the companies themselves are liable for fines of up to £500,000 if they break the law.
The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) said it had collected just 54% of the £17.8m in fines issued over the past eight years because some directors "try to escape paying penalties by declaring bankruptcy - only to open up again under a different name".
In a consultation document, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) says it wants to give the ICO the "powers it needs to hold company directors directly responsible".
- Ask cold callers to remove your information from their records
- Find out caller's number from a landline by dialling 1471 after the call
- Check with your phone company if you can be made ex-directory
- Give away personal or financial information, even if callers claim to be from a company you know
- Lose your temper. Be firm and hang up if the caller refuses to go away#
- Call back phone numbers left on your voicemail, or reply to text messages you don't recognise