ICO fines two more firms over nuisance marketing 

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has fined two more firms over nuisance marketing activities, and although the two companies are not connected with one another, both are based in Stockport.

The first firm – described as an advertising agency that was working with a number of claims management companies – was fined £100,000. Not only did it make more than 69,000 cold calls to people who had registered with the Telephone Preference Service, but its calls were also described by the data protection regulator as being “frightening”, “threatening” and “aggressive”. One complainant even claimed that the caller suggested that they would go to jail if they did not engage the firm’s services. A number of other people reported being called repeatedly in spite of asking the company to stop calling.

This firm also:

  • Failed to correctly identify itself in its marketing calls
  • Did not give recipients the chance to opt out of receiving future calls
  • Provided misleading information about the nature of the call

In view of the seriousness of its wrongdoing, the firm has also been issued with an Enforcement Notice by the ICO. It has 35 days from the date of the Notice to cease all illegal marketing activity.

The second firm was fined £19,000 after it sent more than 260,000 spam texts trying to promote funeral plans. As well as failing to obtain consent in advance from the recipients, the firm also failed to identify itself as the sender in the messages.

As mitigating factors, the ICO notes that this second firm fully co-operated with its investigation and has not been the subject of any complaints to the ICO since the investigation was concluded.

Like so many firms who have been subject to ICO enforcement action, both firms were relying on assurances from third party data suppliers that the recipients of the communications had given consent. This defence will never succeed as the ICO expects firms to conduct their own checks on any such data they might purchase.

The ICO has taken numerous similar actions and has repeatedly warned firms that marketing calls cannot be made to people who are TPS registered, and that automated calls and texts can only be made to people who have explicitly consented in advance to receiving these types of communications.

Andy Curry, ICO Enforcement Group Manager, said:

“Both these firms showed disregard for both the law and people’s right to privacy when they embarked on their unlawful marketing campaigns.

“We heard about the harassing nature of the calls made by [name of first firm], whilst [name of second firm] ploughed ahead with their spam texts despite the fact the content was about funeral plans – a sensitive area which could cause upset to recipients.

“Reports from the public about these firms helped our investigations, leading to action to hold those responsible to account. I’d urge others targeted by nuisance calls, emails or texts, to report them to the ICO.”

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