During a busy week at the end of November the ICO’s enforcement team wrote to more than 1,000 companies involved in buying and selling people’s names and numbers, as part of its ongoing crackdown on nuisance calls.
The companies are all believed to play some role in the compiling and trading of lists of names and numbers used by cold callers. The ICO expects the companies to set out exactly how they comply with the law, including what data they share, how they get people’s consent to share their data, as well as a list of all the companies they’ve worked with in the last six months.
The on-going action saw three fines issued. The first of £80,000 went to a PPI claims company that sent more than 1.3 million spam texts. UKMS Money Solutions Limited (UKMS) used mobile phone numbers it had bought from list brokers to encourage people to make a claim for PPI compensation. The Birmingham-based firm did not check that the people had agreed to receive marketing text messages – something they are legally required to ensure. A total of 1,442 people complained to the ICO and the 7726 spam text reporting service during UKMS’ nine-week direct marketing campaign between April and June 2015.
The ICO also took action against two more cold call blocking companies, Poole-based Nuisance Call Blocker Ltd has been fined £90,000 and Telecom Protection Service Ltd, based in Bournemouth, has received an £80,000 fine. Both companies were found to be making unsolicited marketing calls to people registered on the official Telephone Preference Service while trying to sell products and services to block the type of cold calls they were making. Over 1,000 complaints were received about the two companies. Complainants stated that Nuisance Call Blocker Ltd had given the impression that the calls were part of a government backed initiative while Telecom Protection Service Ltd’s name seemed designed for it to be confused with the official Telephone Preference Service opt out scheme.