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Brit loan firm gets comeuppance for 7.7 million spam texts

ICO delivers £130k fine to Mancunian credit card broker

The UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has fined a financial firm £130,000 after it sent out over seven million spam texts flogging credit cards.

Manchester-based Intelligent Lending, trading as Ocean Finance, has also received an enforcement notice forcing it to stop sending out the spam, after it had sent out 7.7 million texts offering potential customers a new credit card from Capital One according to the ICO.

Although Ocean Finance believed it was complying with the law when it sent out the millions of spam messages, because the third party firm from which it had obtained the recipients' names and numbers claimed it had also managed to pocket their consent.

An ICO investigation found that "consent" to be "insufficient to meet the requirements of the law."

Of the 7.7 million text messages the company sent out over six months, 4.5 million of these were successfully transmitted.

Steve Eckersley, the ICO head of enforcement, said: "Company bosses everywhere should sit up and take note of this fine and check their practices are compliant with the law before embarking on marketing campaigns.

“It’s your responsibility to make rigorous checks to ensure personal data has been obtained fairly and lawfully. It’s not enough to rely on the word of a third party,” Eckersley added.

A spokesman from Ocean Finance told The Register: “We are sorry that a very small minority of consumers found our SMS marketing for the Ocean Credit Card last year unwelcome. The number of complaints made to the ICO represented 0.04 per cent of the recipients of these marketing messages.”

0.04 per cent of 4,500,000 is 1,800. According to the ICO, more than 1,900 complaints were actually made regarding the mass-mailing.

Ocean Finance added:

Our marketing campaign used data that we had purchased from a well-known provider of marketing data.

We conducted extensive and thorough initial and ongoing due diligence with the provider before proceeding and we received written and contractual assurances that the data we purchased had the valid consent in line with applicable laws and regulations.

We believe that we took all reasonable steps to ensure that the data we used was compliant with all the applicable laws and regulations – which is why we are considering appealing the ICO’s decision.

“We remain determined to operate at all times within both the spirit and the letter of the law and regulations,” Ocean Finance continued. ®

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