ICO fines boiler replacement company for thousands of nuisance calls made to TPS subscribers
Making it Easy Ltd has been fined £160,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) for making spam calls to people registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS).
The ICO has also issued an enforcement notice to Making it Easy Ltd ordering it to stop its illegal marketing activity.
The Clydebank-based boiler replacement firm made more than one million marketing calls between May 2018 and December 2018, with 853,769 of those calls being made to people registered with the TPS. That means that 80% of all marketing calls made by the firm during that period were unlawful.
It is against the law to make marketing calls to numbers that have been registered with the TPS for more than 28 days, unless people have provided consent.
The ICO and the TPS received nearly 200 complaints about the company, with most people saying that, despite being able to see the number of the caller, they could not identify the firm to be able to report their concerns. The complainants said:
”I cannot find any company details for this number. They claim to be National Heating Advisory Service.”
”The call themselves the Heating Advice Centre and all speak with Scottish accent despite the [number] being a Swansea STD code.”
The company names provided by the complainants were not listed as a trading name of Making it Easy Ltd, but the ICO traced the identified phone numbers back to the firm.
Making it Easy Ltd told the ICO it purchased the data used to make the calls from a third party but that it did not have a contract. The company also did not screen the numbers against the TPS register nor could provide evidence of consent being given.
Stephen Eckersley, ICO’s Director of Investigations, said:
“Making it Easy Ltd made a substantial number of marketing calls to people who had made clear that they did not want to receive them. They also deliberately gave vague and misleading information to people they called, and failed to take basic steps to ensure it had valid consent to make these calls. This is unacceptable, it is against the law and we will continue to hold firms to account and issue fines if necessary.”
The advice for people who receive nuisance marketing calls, emails and texts is to ask the company to remove their details from their lists, read the small print and be careful about ticking boxes which could give them consent to contact you and to report them to the ICO.
Companies that carry out electronic marketing and want to make sure they are complying with the law, should subscribe to the TPS for a fee to get the register of subscribers to screen against their own call lists. Further advice is available on the ICO website.
Notes to Editors
- The Information Commissioner’s Office upholds information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals.
- The ICO has specific responsibilities set out in the Data Protection Act 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the Freedom of Information Act 2000, Environmental Information Regulations 2004 and Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003.
- The Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) give people specific privacy rights in relation to electronic communications. There are specific rules on:
- marketing calls, emails, texts and faxes;
- cookies (and similar technologies);
- keeping communications services secure; and
- customer privacy as regards traffic and location data, itemised billing, line identification, and directory listings.
- We aim to help organisations comply with PECR and promote good practice by offering advice and guidance. We will take enforcement action against organisations that persistently ignore their obligations.
- The ICO has the power under PECR to impose a monetary penalty on a data controller of up to £500,000.
- Civil Monetary Penalties (CMPs) are subject to a right of appeal to the (First-tier Tribunal) General Regulatory Chamber against the imposition of the monetary penalty and/or the amount of the penalty specified in the monetary penalty notice.
- Any monetary penalty is paid into the Treasury’s Consolidated Fund and is not kept by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
- To report a concern to the ICO, visit ico.org.uk/concerns.