A Glasgow-based company is facing a £150,000 penalty handed down by the UK's data watchdog for making more than half a million nuisance calls about bogus green energy deals.
The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) fined DialADeal Scotland Ltd (DDSL) after an investigation found that it had targeted numbers registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) where people had expressly withdrawn their consent to receive marketing calls.
The unsolicited phone calls were about non-existent "Green Deal energy saving schemes" including boiler and window replacement, loft insulation, and home improvement grants.
Reacting to a record number of complaints submitted by TPS subscribers, ICO officials found that most of the calls were made between August 2019 and March 2020 and that the Glasgow firm also disguised phone numbers and used false trading names – all of which is illegal.
In a statement confirming the £150,000 fine, Ken Macdonald, head of ICO Regions, said: "Calls about Green Deal schemes can be a real problem as people often believe they are legitimate but, thanks to the complaints made by the public, we've been able to take action.
"Dial A Deal were breaking the law on a number of fronts. Not only were they making calls to people without their permission, they were also hiding their identity using false names and spoof numbers."
- Leaked Guntrader firearms data file shared. Worst case scenario? Criminals plot UK gun owners' home addresses in Google Earth
- Sueball over breach of more than 5 million payment cards at Dixons Carphone hit for six
- Nuisance call-blocking firm fined £170,000 for making almost 200,000 nuisance calls
- This is the data watchdog! Surrender your Matt Hancock smoochy-kiss pics right now!
In its ruling [PDF], the ICO detailed the events that led up to the investigation, correspondence it had with company directors, and set out the breaches of UK data law.
On 25 November 2020, the ruling reports, the ICO was advised that DialADeal had ceased trading.
In a twist, Scotland's Daily Record newspaper revealed the identity of one of those behind DDSL as a colourful social media "influencer" who routinely "portrays herself living a life of luxury" with an office in a "rundown business unit in the east end of Glasgow."
Last month, a Brighton-based firm that sells nuisance call-blocking systems found itself being chewed out by watchdog for, ironically, cold calling almost 200,000 people registered with the TPS.
And in a break from run-of-the-mill investigative work, in July officers from the ICO searched two homes in Southern England in connection with pictures of former health secretary Matt Hancock kissing a colleague that appeared in a Brit tabloid newspaper. ®