The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has fined two more firms over their marketing practices.

A Manchester-based firm has been fined £150,000 after it made 63,724 marketing calls between May and July 2017 to individuals who had registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS). The firm appeared to be fully aware that telephoning these consumers without their explicit consent was illegal, with at least one complainant to the ICO reporting that the firm said they acknowledged that they were speaking to a TPS member but were calling anyway.

The complainants also alleged that:

  • The callers were abusive – one said that the firm used profane language when hanging up, and another used personally insulting language when the caller suggested they would complain about the call
  • The firm would sometimes call the same number just half an hour later
  • The firm said the recipient had only three options: to make a false injury claim with the firm, to change their phone number, or to continue receiving marketing calls; i.e. the firm was not offering a fourth option to opt out of marketing calls

The firm, which was inviting people to pursue accident claims, was described by the ICO as one of the most complained about firms during June 2017.

The firm also failed to respond to initial requests for information to assist the data protection regulator in its investigations. It only complied when the ICO threatened it with prosecution under section 47 of the Data Protection Act.

The ICO adds that it has seen evidence that the firm provided a false name to some of the call recipients.

ICO Director of Investigations, Steve Eckersley, said of the Manchester firm:

Companies that operate in this way are causing distress and offence to huge numbers of people who just don’t want these calls. Our advice for organisations is quite clear: they must not call people registered on the TPS and, where we see this happening, we will investigate and take enforcement action where necessary.”

In another case, the ICO has fined a London-based firm £90,000 for sending 4,396,780 unsolicited emails between January and September 2017 regarding funeral plans.

The regulator adds that many of these emails did not make it clear who was sending them, which is another breach of the law.

Andy Curry, ICO Enforcement Group Manager, said of the London firm:

“Companies seeking to use email marketing must make sure they follow the law. People would particularly expect this to be so when the subject may be perceived as sensitive, as in this case.

“[name of firm] relied heavily on their affiliates to deliver millions of unwanted messages to members of the public, and also ensure compliance with the law. However, it was [name of firm]’s responsibility to ensure they had valid consent to send the emails. Businesses should send marketing messages in compliance with the law or face potential enforcement action by the ICO.”

Section 22 of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations forbids firms from sending marketing texts to anyone who has not given explicit consent in advance to receiving them.

The information shown in this article was correct at the time of publication. Articles are not routinely reviewed and as such are not updated. Please be aware the facts, circumstances or legal position may change after publication of the article