The UK’s privacy regulator has fined five companies accused of making nuisance marketing calls, including some that deliberately targeted vulnerable people and pressured them into handing over their card details.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) fined the firms a total of £435,000 for making almost half a million unlawful marketing calls to people registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS).
It’s illegal to make such calls to anyone opting in to the TPS unless they have explicitly said it is OK to do so.
However, some of the tactics used in these campaigns are particularly egregious – targeting the elderly and vulnerable with pressure tactics designed to obtain their payment details.
“We will not stop investigating and taking robust action against companies, to protect people and especially the vulnerable, where we find a blatant disregard for the law,” said ICO head of investigations, Andy Curry.
“The pressure tactics, and sometimes false or misleading statements these companies used were completely unacceptable. To be made to feel as though you have to hand over your bank details simply to get someone off the phone is nothing short of shameful, and that is why we have taken action against these companies.”
The five companies found to have contravened the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003 (PECR), are:
- Allapplianceservices UK Ltd (AUKL), based in Brighton, which made nearly 100,000 unsolicited calls to TPS-registered individuals in the first half of the year. It was fined £85,000 after insisting to some victims that they share payment details
- Boiler Cover Breakdown Limited (BCBL) and Boiler Breakdown Limited (BBL), both based in Sutton with the same director, which made nearly 360,000 nuisance calls and were fined a total of £260,000
- Repair Plans UK Limited (RPUK), based in Brighton, which made false and misleading statements to individuals and, in one case, took money from a victim’s account unnecessarily. It was fined £70,000
- Utility Guard Limited (UGL), based in Chichester, which made 1900 nuisance calls and, on one occasion, took money from a person who has dementia. It was fined £20,000
The ICO said it has issued over £2m in fines against companies responsible for spam calls, texts and emails so far in 2022.
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