ICO issues £30,000 fine to will-writing company that made nuisance calls

10 Nov 2016 01:55 PM

Assist Law, based in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, made unsolicited marketing calls to people registered with the TPS (Telephone Preference Service) for over a year.

Nearly 100 complaints made by TPS subscribers prompted an ICO investigation that ended with yesterday’s fine of £30,000 for Assist Law.

The will-writing company made calls using information from a third party company, which claimed people on its calling list had consented to being telephoned. This was not the case.

It’s against the law for companies making marketing calls to telephone people registered on the TPS. Companies should carry out regular checks to make sure they are not calling people on the register.

Andy Curry, enforcement manager, said:

“Despite repeated warnings, this company failed to take the basic steps required by law. They should have asked for evidence of consent and screened against the TPS list to check whether people had chosen not to receive marketing calls.  

“They relied on a separate company to do this which wasn’t good enough. Any company that instigates a marketing campaign is responsible for taking these steps. Assist Law broke the law.”

The Government has recently announced plans to introduce fines of up to £500,000 for company directors heading up nuisance marketing firms. The new law is expected to come into force next spring. The ICO’s recent blog, Closing the back door on nuisance call directors, gives more details.

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 2000, Environmental Information Regulations 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.

  1. 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.
  2. Any monetary penalty is paid into the Treasury’s Consolidated Fund and is not kept by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
  3. To report a concern to the ICO telephone our helpline 0303 123 1113 or go to ico.org.uk/concerns.