ICO issues nuisance calls warning as two firms from same city are fined

ICO issues nuisance calls warning as two firms from same city are fined

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has reminded companies making direct marketing calls that people registered with the Telephone Preference Service are “off limits”.

The warning comes as the ICO issues fines totalling £150,000 to two firms based in Bradford that, between them, sparked hundreds of complaints.

HPAS Ltd (trading as Safestyle UK) and Laura Anderson Ltd (trading as Virgo Home Improvements) broke the law when they called people who were registered with TPS.

HPAS Ltd has been fined £70,000 after the TPS and ICO received 264 complaints in 20 months. The company was repeatedly warned and placed on formal monitoring three times – but the complaints continued.

Laura Anderson Ltd has been fined £80,000 following 440 complaints in 19 months.

As well as the fines, the ICO has issued enforcement notices to both HPAS Ltd and Laura Anderson Ltd, compelling them to stop making nuisance calls or face court action.

The ICO found that neither company had subscribed to the TPS register in order to check whether the people they were contacting had opted out of receiving direct marketing. Both companies also contacted people after being explicitly told not to call again. This is against the law.

Steve Eckersley, ICO Head of Enforcement, said:

“Companies have no excuse – if people are registered with the Telephone Preference Service they are off limits.

“The law is clear and if companies fall foul of it with illegal and overly aggressive telesales tactics, we will take action on behalf of the people who suffer the nuisance.”

The ICO has had statutory responsibility for the TPS since December 2016 and received complaints about both Safestyle and Virgo from people who said that they received repeated unsolicited calls and that their opt out requests were being ignored.

Complaints about Safestyle included:

“This harassment has been going on for over five years now. I want it to stop.”

“I am disabled and pretty much housebound and he kept saying persistently that he was sending a rep around the next day. Makes me anxious as I kept saying no.”

Complaints about Virgo included:

“Angry. This is the 3rd call in two months. I have previously requested they delete our number, we are with TPS.”

“Unwanted and unneeded as we are currently dealing with a bereavement of my wife’s father, who died yesterday.”

“I was upset because the man was very disrespectful and impatient. I am retired and live on my own and it made me feel vulnerable.”

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 1998, the Freedom of Information Act 2000, Environmental Information Regulations 2004 and Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003.
  3. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a new law that will replace the Data Protection Act 1998 and will apply in the UK from 25 May 2018. The government has confirmed that the UK’s decision to leave the EU will not affect the commencement of the GDPR.
  4. 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. The ICO has the power to impose a monetary penalty on a data controller of up to £500,000.
  5. The Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) sit alongside the Data Protection Act. They give people specific privacy rights in relation to electronic communications. There are specific rules on:
  6. 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.
  7. Any monetary penalty is paid into the Treasury’s Consolidated Fund and is not kept by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
  8. To report a concern to the ICO telephone our helpline 0303 123 1113 or go to ico.org.uk/concerns.

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