Information Commissioner's Office
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Firm behind thousands of spam texts fined by ICO

A Manchester company behind thousands of spam texts has been fined £80,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office.

Text messages from claims management firm Quigley and Carter Limited prompted more than 2,600 complaints in just two months. This led to an ICO investigation which found the company had broken the rules around direct marketing.

Stephen Eckersley, ICO head of enforcement, said:

“People were left annoyed, angered and upset by these texts. The rules around electronic marketing messages are simple and there for a very good reason – to protect people’s privacy rights and stop unwanted phone calls, texts and emails.

“We committed to target organisations that broke the rules. Quigley and Carter should have known the rules and obeyed them. They failed to follow the law and so we’ve acted – to show them and others that organisations cannot ignore their obligations.”

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.

Quigley and Carter contracted a third party to send the texts on its behalf but failed to check properly that the individuals to whom the messages were sent had consented to receive them.

The text messages were directing individuals to Quigley and Carter’s website,, which offers services to do with mis-sold packaged bank accounts.

This is an example of a text sent by the company: “Why pay a fee for your bank account when you don’t have to, 2108.45 is being paid on average, fill out for us to send yours out ASAP”

Thousands of complaints about the texts were made to the ICO and the 7726 spam reporting service, including the following:

“It was extremely annoying. I have received the same text from five different numbers.”

“Angry and upset that my details are being shared and used without my consent.”

“I am being bombarded with unwanted text messages, where did they get my information from, it’s making my life a misery.”

There is advice on the ICO website about what individuals can do to avoid unwanted spam texts and how they can report them.

The ICO’s direct marketing guidance offers advice to help responsible organisations keep within the law when sending advertising by electronic means, such as by telephone, email or text.

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. 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;
    • secure; and
    • not transferred to other countries without adequate protection.
  5. The Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) sit alongside the Data Protection Act. They give people specific privacy rights in relation to electronic communications.
    1. 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.
    2. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Any monetary penalty is paid into the Treasury’s Consolidated Fund and is not kept by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
  8. To report a concern to the ICO telephone our helpline 0303 123 1113 or go


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