Information Commissioner's Office
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Complainers trigger two ICO investigations leading to £100,000 in fines

Complaints from people bombarded with spam texts and nuisance calls have helped the ICO fine two companies a total of £100,000.

Separate investigations into Omega Marketing Services Ltd and Vincent Bond Ltd were both triggered by complaints about nuisance marketing. Now the firms have been fined £60,000 and £40,000 respectively.

ICO enforcement manager Andy Curry said:

“These companies showed scant regard for the law and that’s why we took action.

“The people they were calling and texting took action too – they took the time and trouble to complain and it makes a difference. It helps us identify patterns, trace hidden numbers and build up a case against rogue firms.

“Ultimately, when people complain, we have a better chance of tracking down the rogue companies and stopping the nuisance.”

Omega Marketing Services Ltd, which sells solar panels and green energy equipment, ignored the rules around telephone marketing.

An ICO investigation found it made 1.6 million calls to people who were registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) and who had not given their permission to receive calls. This is against the law and the ICO has fined the Glasgow-based firm £60,000.

The ICO’s investigation was sparked when it started getting complaints about phone numbers previously linked to MyIML Ltd – a firm the ICO fined for nuisance calls in February 2016.

The ICO has today issued a second fine of £40,000 to Vincent Bond Ltd, a London debt management company that sent 346,162 spam texts to people who had not agreed to receive them. This is against the rules.

One of the texts, offering quick cash loans, was named among the top 20 most complained about messages in November 2015, with 147 people logging their anger at being contacted.

The law says that organisations must only send marketing text messages to individuals if they have agreed to receive them, except where there is a clearly defined customer relationship.

Mr Curry said:

“Nuisance calls and texts are upsetting, frustrating and intrusive but with the help of the public, we will continue to keep one step ahead.”

The ICO receives around 13,000 complaints about spam texts, emails and nuisance calls a month.  It is currently investigating 167 cases. Report nuisance calls at ico.org.uk/calls.

Notes to editors

  1. The Information Commissioner’s Office upholds information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals.
  2. The ICO has specific responsibilities set out in the Data Protection Act 1998, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) 2000, Environmental Information Regulations (EIR) 2004 and Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003.
  3. The ICO can take action to change the behaviour of organisations and individuals that collect, use and keep personal information. This includes criminal prosecution, non-criminal enforcement and audit. The ICO has the power to impose a monetary penalty on a data controller of up to £500,000.
  4. The Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) sit alongside the Data Protection Act. They give people specific privacy rights in relation to electronic communications.
    • There are specific rules on:
      • marketing calls, emails, texts and faxes;
      • cookies (and similar technologies);
      • keeping communications services secure; and
      • customer privacy as regards traffic and location data, itemised billing, line identification, and directory listings.
    • We aim to help organisations comply with PECR and promote good practice by offering advice and guidance. We will take enforcement action against organisations that persistently ignore their obligations.
  5. Civil Monetary Penalties (CMPs) are subject to a right of appeal to the (First-tier Tribunal) General Regulatory Chamber against the imposition of the monetary penalty and/or the amount of the penalty specified in the monetary penalty notice.
  6. Any monetary penalty is paid into the Treasury’s Consolidated Fund and is not kept by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
  7. To report a concern to the ICO telephone our helpline 0303 123 1113 or go to ico.org.uk/concerns.

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