The Information Commissioner’s Office ICO began investigating a number of companies for unwanted marketing calls following complaints from the public and other organisations, such as Action Fraud and Trading Standards.
The companies in question were calling people to sell insurance products and services for white goods and televisions. People complained to the ICO that the companies seemed to be targeting elderly vulnerable people, with some suffering from dementia or other underlying health conditions.
Following their investigation, the ICO found that the companies had bought marketing data lists from third parties, specifically requesting information for people over the age of 60 and anybody still using a landline number. The ICO further found that the five companies appeared to be working together (or using the same marketing list) to target elderly vulnerable people.
The Information Commissioner, John Edwards released a statement following the ICO’s investigation and confirmed:
“These are unlawful predatory marketing calls that were targeted at some of the most vulnerable members of our society and driven purely by financial gain.
It is clear from the complaints we received that people felt frightened and distressed by the aggressive tactics of these companies, sometimes giving their financial details just so they could hang up the phone. This is unacceptable and clearly exploitative. It is only right that we take tough and prompt action to punish those companies responsible using our full powers.
Companies making similar nuisance calls and causing harm to people can expect a strong response from my office. I encourage anyone who is being pestered by other rogue operators, or knows a family member or friend who is, to report them to the ICO and we will step in to protect the public from these invasive calls.”
The Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (Regulations) set out the rules for organisations, that want to make live direct marketing telephone calls. The Regulations make it clear that if an individual has registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS), live marketing calls should not be made to that person.
In the case of the five companies above, the ICO, upon investigation, found that all five of the companies had made a substantial amount of unwanted marketing calls to people registered with the TPS in breach of the Regulations. The following fines were issued by the ICO:
- Domestic Support Ltd – Made 69,133 unwanted marketing calls to people registered with the TPS. They were fined £80,000;
- Home Sure Solutions Ltd – Made 229,483 unwanted marketing calls to people registered with TPS. They were fined £100,000;
- Seaview Brokers Ltd – Made 4,737 unwanted marketing calls to people registered with TPS. They were fined £15,000;
- UK Appliance Cover Ltd – Made 39,167 unwanted marketing calls to people registered with TPS. They were fined £100,000; and
- UK Platinum Home Care Services Ltd – Made 412,556 unwanted marketing calls to people registered with TPS. They were fined £110,000.
Not only were the above companies issued fines, but the ICO also issued enforcement notices requiring the companies to immediately stop making the predatory calls.
The above is a helpful reminder of the ICO’s stance on unwanted direct marketing calls. Any organisations carrying out such calls need to ensure that they are complying with the Regulations.
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