16Jun

The Information Commissioner’s Office has imposed more fines on firms found to have engaged in ‘nuisance marketing’.

The latest sanctions include a £170,000 fine for a Stoke-on-Trent credit intermediary which sent a series of spam texts over a 15-month period between October 2018 and January 2020. The firm is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority.

A Cardiff-based firm has also been fined £145,000 for making unsolicited calls to promote funeral plans. These products will fall under Financial Conduct Authority regulation from 2022. The ICO says that the firm made 1.4 million calls between May 2019 and May 2020 to people who were registered with the Telephone Preference Service. The data protection watchdog also describes the firm’s marketing practices as “aggressive” and “coercive” and says this was particularly concerning given the vulnerable nature of many of the recipients.

Both firms have also been issued with enforcement notices, which instruct them to cease making the calls and sending the texts until such time as they have received the necessary consents. Live marketing calls cannot be made to people registered with the TPS, unless the recipient has informed the firm that they do not object to receiving marketing communications. Marketing texts can only be sent to individuals who have given explicit prior consent to receiving them.

The car finance firm’s consent statement suggested that customers might receive communications by SMS and other methods, but there was no reference to marketing activities in the statement, or any indication of why communications might be attempted.

Andy Curry, ICO Head of Investigations, said:

“Companies that bombard people with messages and calls they haven’t asked for, to sell them products and services they don’t want, are not only a nuisance but can also cause huge distress, particularly to the more vulnerable. That’s why we’ve taken the robust action set out here today.

“Organisations are responsible for making sure the people they send marketing to have given their permission. They must also make sure they do not contact people who are registered with the Telephone Preference Service list.”

“Company directors who disregard the law should be in no doubt that we will pursue them – other businesses should take note.”