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Four cold calling marketing firms fined almost £500k by ICO

That's 20 pence a pop for the 2.4 million calls made, many to Telephone Preference Service users

The UK’s data watchdog has issued £480,000 in financial penalties to four businesses that illegally made 2.4 million marketing calls to members of the public registered with the Telephone Preference Services (TPS).

Individuals that sign up to the TPS should not receive unsolicited sales or marketing calls to their landline or mobile. Contacting those users 28 days after they’ve joined the service is illegal under Privacy and Electronic Communication Regulations.

The Information Commissioner’s Office today added more names to the nuisance call Hall of Shame: Chameleon Marketing Ltd in Leeds; Rancom Security Ltd in Sutton Coldfield; Repair & Assure Ltd based in Redhill; and Solar Style Solutions from Stockton on Tees. Between them, the businesses generated complaints from 250 TPS using members of the public.

“Business owners operating in this field have a duty to both familiarise themselves with and comply with the law,” said Andy Curry, ICO head of investigations. “Attempting to rely on ignorance or naivety or trying to pass the buck to suppliers will never be a valid defence.”

“The consequences for those that choose to flout the law strike at a company’s reputations and balance sheet with fines and where necessary enforcement notices ordering firms to stop making calls,” he added.

In the case of Chameleon Marketing, it made 617,323 direct marketing calls to people registered with TPS between 17 March and 2 July 2019. This led to 52 complaints. The ICO said the company did not conduct due diligence on the supplier of its data and was penalised £100,000.

More than 851,000 calls were made by Rancom Security between 1 June 2017 and 31 May 2018. Of these, more than 565,000 were to TPS registered users. The business was unable to indicate due diligence or proof of a TPS licence. Its actions led to 94 complaints to the TPS and it was fined £110,000 by the ICO.

Over a six-month period from 2 January to 11 June 2019, Repair & Assure Ltd made more than 1.1 million calls to people about washing machine warranties, leading to 88 complaints to the ICO and TPS. At first, the business said the data it obtained was from 12 third-party suppliers, said the ICO, but the watchdog discovered that data had been gathered from telephone marketing surveys. The company was fined £180,000 and ordered to stop making calls within 30 days.

Solar Style Solutions made almost 189,000 calls between 1 January and 29 April 2019, of which around 126,000 were to TPS registered users. The ICO said the company was naive, relying only on “good faith” with regard to the source of its purchased data. The business was fined £90,000 by the watchdog.

The ICO’s chief Elizabeth Denham this week agreed, following a request from the UK’s Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, to extend her time with the agency until the end of October. She had been due to stand down in July. ®

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