Firms from all business sectors have been advised to check that anyone to whom they make a marketing phone call is not in fact registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS).

The data protection regulator, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), adds that the cost to firms of checking whether individuals appear on the TPS list is lower than they would expect to pay when being fined for breaching this requirement.

The ICO issued its warning at the same time as it fined energy saving firm Home Logic UK Ltd £50,000 for calling individuals who were TPS registered. 133 complaints were received by the regulator about the Southampton-based firm’s marketing practices.

Home Logic had an electronic dialler system that was supposed to screen phone numbers against the register before a call was made. Although that system was unavailable for 90 working days out of 220 between April 2015 and March 2016, the firm continued to make marketing calls throughout this period, meaning that many people who were on the register began to receive calls from Home Logic.

The ICO press release also informs firms that they can subscribe to the TPS register for an annual cost of £2,640. The cost will be lower if a firm only needs access for a shorter time period, or only needs information for a specific geographical area.

Regulation 21 of the Privacy and Electronic Communications (PECR) states that:

“A person shall neither use, nor instigate the use of, a public electronic communications service for the purposes of making unsolicited calls for direct marketing purposes where – (a) the called line is that of a subscriber who has previously notified the caller that such calls should not for the time being be made on that line; or (b) the number allocated to a subscriber in respect of the called line is one listed in the register kept under regulation 26.”

In this case, the TPS is the register the ICO keeps for the purposes of regulation 26.

ICO Head of Enforcement Steve Eckersley said:

“Organisations have no excuse – they know that calling people on the TPS register is against the law and that we will come down hard on them if they don’t respect the public’s right to privacy.

“We continue to see companies suffering the financial and reputational consequences of being caught making nuisance calls, which could have been prevented if they had invested in a TPS licence and made proper use of it. It is baffling that some firms continue to take this business risk.”

A number of firms have been fined for making marketing calls to individuals who appear on the TPS list. Many more firms have of course been fined for sending marketing text messages, or for making automated phone calls. Firms must note that the TPS opt-out applies only to live marketing calls where there is a two-way interaction between the firm and the recipient. For automated calls and texts there is no equivalent of the TPS, and these communications can only be made to people who have given explicit prior consent 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.