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ICO Fines Nuisance Call Firms £220,000

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has been in action again, this time fining two nuisance call companies who tried to sell home security services specifically to individuals who’d opted out.

The UK’s privacy watchdog issued the fines under the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR), which governs nuisance marketing. The maximum penalty possible is £500,000.

Individuals who sign-up to the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) do so to avoid unsolicited marketing calls.

However, ACT Response of Middlesbrough was behind 496,455 marketing calls to TPS subscribers and was fined £140,000, while Secure Home Systems (SHS) of Bilston, West Midlands, was fined £80,000 for making calls to 84,347 TPS-registered numbers.

The ICO claimed the latter used call lists bought from third parties without screening them first. Interestingly, the two companies called individuals “live” rather than using automated systems. The script used by ACT Response even asked people whether they were registered with the TPS, according to the ICO.

The two garnered hundreds of complaints to the watchdog, with SHS calls dating as far back as two years.

“These fines should set alarm bells ringing and deter marketing companies across all sectors that are contacting people without their consent. It is a company’s responsibility to make sure that it has valid consent to make these calls,” said ICO group enforcement manager, Andy Curry.

“The TPS is there for a reason – to protect people’s privacy and ensure that marketing companies obey the law. Marketing companies failing to take the basic step of checking TPS can expect robust enforcement.”

The ICO has has slapped major fines on companies like Keurboom Communications (£400K), Miss-Sold Products UK (£350K), Your Money Rights (£350K) and more over the past year.

However, the directors behind these firms often try to escape punishment by declaring bankruptcy, only to set up new businesses. That’s why a leading consumer rights group campaigned in August for government action.

According to Which? the government agreed two years ago that from spring 2017, directors of firms responsible for nuisance calls could each be fined up to £500,000 by the ICO if they breached the PECR. Yet so far it has failed to introduce such measures.

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