ICO fines Manchester firm £150,000 for making nuisance calls

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ICO fines Manchester firm £150,000 for making nuisance calls

A Manchester firm has been fined £150,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) for making thousands of nuisance direct marketing phone calls.

Oaklands Assist UK Ltd based in Radcliffe, made 63,724 calls over a two month period from May to July 2017 to people who were registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS). The law states that live calls must not be made to any number registered with the TPS unless they have specifically consented to the call. This was in breach of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR).

The company first came to the ICO’s attention in June 2017 when it was identified as one of its most complained about organisations during that month.

There were 59 complaints which included:

“Caller was extremely abusive when asked how they got our details. Used profane language when hanging up. The same number had also called on numerous other occasions, sometimes just a silent call, and then ring back within half an hour.”

“I was on hands-free with my children in the car and although I was keeping my cool and asking him to remove my details, he was angry and aggressive – not good for my kids to hear which is why I hung up. Sick of getting these calls.”

ICO Director of Investigations, Steve Eckersley, said:

Companies that operate in this way are causing distress and offence to huge numbers of people who just don’t want these calls. Our advice for organisations is quite clear: they must not call people registered on the TPS and, where we see this happening, we will investigate and take enforcement action where necessary.”

Companies should display the number they are calling from and should screen call lists against the TPS before making any calls.

There is further information and guidance available on our website.

Notes to Editors

  1. The Information Commissioner’s Office upholds information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals.
  2. The ICO has specific responsibilities set out in the Data Protection Act 2018, the Freedom of Information Act 2000, the GDPR, Environmental Information Regulations 2004 and Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003.
  3. 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.
  4. The ICO has the power to impose a civil monetary penalty on a data controller of up to £500,000 for a breach of PECR.
  5. 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.
  6. The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a new law which took effect in the UK on 25 May 2018. Its provisions are included in the Data Protection Act 2018. The Act also includes measures related to wider data protection reforms in areas not covered by GDPR, such as law enforcement and security. The UK’s decision to leave the EU will not affect the commencement of the GDPR.
  7. The ICO can take action to change the behaviour of organisations and individuals that collect, use and keep personal information. This includes criminal prosecution, non-criminal enforcement and audit.
  8. 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.
  9. Any monetary penalty is paid into the Treasury’s Consolidated Fund and is not kept by ICO.
  10. To report a concern go to ico.org.uk/concerns or call the ICO helpline on 0303 123 1113.

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