Information Commissioner's Office
Cold calling company fined for marketing products designed to block its own cold calls
The ICO has fined Cold Call Eliminations Ltd £75,000 for making unsolicited marketing calls to sell cold call blocking devices.
The Chichester-based company was telephoning people to sell a call-blocking service and device to stop unsolicited calls, the same type of calls the company itself was making.
Complaints were received from elderly and vulnerable customers who claimed aggressive cold callers pressed them to take subscriptions to a service that seemed to be the equivalent of the free Telephone Preference Service (TPS). One complainant said the sales person implied they were calling from the statutory TPS. Another said money was taken from their account despite turning down the service and a bank account had to be cancelled to stop the contract.
Over a period of nearly two years, the ICO and the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) received 382 complaints from people who were registered on the TPS. Companies are not allowed by law to call anyone registered on this service unless they have specific consent.
Cold Call Eliminations was monitored by the ICO, giving the company a time period in which to improve, but the company ignored the warnings and continued with the calls.
Steve Eckersley, ICO’s Head of Enforcement said:
“This company clearly knew the law, but continued to break it by calling people on the TPS. It’s clear some of the people called by this company were very distressed by the calls and as some of the people receiving the calls were elderly or vulnerable this was an aggravating factor. This monetary penalty has been issued to make sure that Cold Call Eliminations realise that it is unacceptable to operate in this way. It should also be a warning to other companies that we will act if companies are found to be breaking the law.
“It’s ironic that the products they were trying to sell should have blocked the very calls they were making.”
The ICO has published detailed guidance for companies carrying out marketing – explaining their legal requirements under the Data Protection Act and the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations. The guidance covers the circumstances in which organisations are able to carry out marketing over the phone, by text, by email, by post or by fax.
Notes to Editors
- The Information Commissioner’s Office upholds information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals.
- 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.
- The ICO is on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Read more in the ICO blog and e-newsletter.Our Press Office page provides more information for journalists.
- Anyone who processes personal information must comply with eight principles of the Data Protection Act, which make sure that personal information is:
- Fairly and lawfully processed
- Processed for limited purposes
- Adequate, relevant and not excessive
- Accurate and up to date
- Not kept for longer than is necessary
- Processed in line with your rights
- Not transferred to other countries without adequate protection
- 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.
- Any monetary penalty is paid into the Treasury’s Consolidated Fund and is not kept by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
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