ICO warns companies about the costly consequences of making nuisance calls
Companies carrying out direct marketing have been reminded that properly screening numbers against the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) register is much cheaper than a fine for making nuisance calls.
The warning comes after domestic energy saving firm Home Logic UK Ltd was given a £50,000 penalty by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) for making marketing calls to people who had made it clear they didn’t want to be contacted in that way.
The TPS allows people to register their number and opt out of receiving marketing calls. Between April 1 2015 and July 31 2016, it received 133 complaints from members of the public about nuisance calls made to their TPS-registered numbers by Southampton-based Home Logic. A further three were made by callers passing themselves off as the firm.
Home Logic said it licensed the numbers it used to make marketing calls from third-party providers. It then uploaded that data to an electronic dialler system, which screened the numbers against the TPS register.
However, that system was unavailable for 90 days out of 220 between April 2015 and March 2016, due to technical issues. On those days, Home Logic continued to make unsolicited marketing calls without any alternative screening against the TPS register.
ICO Head of Enforcement Steve Eckersley said:
“Organisations have no excuse – they know that calling people on the TPS register is against the law and that we will come down hard on them if they don’t respect the public’s right to privacy.
”We continue to see companies suffering the financial and reputational consequences of being caught making nuisance calls, which could have been prevented if they had invested in a TPS licence and made proper use of it. It is baffling that some firms continue to take this business risk.”
The ICO has had statutory responsibility for the TPS since December 2016. Firms engaged in direct marketing can subscribe to the register for 12 months for a cost of £2,640, or less for limited geographical areas or for time-specific periods.
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 1998, the Freedom of Information Act 2000, Environmental Information Regulations 2004 and Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003.
- 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.
- The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a new law which will apply in the UK from 25 May 2018. The Government has confirmed the UK’s decision to leave the EU will not affect the commencement of the GDPR. The Government is introducing measures related to this and wider data protection reforms in a Data Protection Bill.
- Anyone who processes personal information must comply with eight principles of the Data Protection Act, which make sure that personal information is:
- fairly and lawfully processed;
- processed for limited purposes;
- adequate, relevant and not excessive;
- accurate and up to date;
- not kept for longer than is necessary;
- processed in line with your rights;
- secure; and
- not transferred to other countries without adequate protection.
- 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 telephone our helpline 0303 123 1113 or go to org.uk/concerns/