Information Commissioner's Office
ICO warns financial call centre to stop sending pension texts
The ICO has warned Help Direct UK, a financial services call centre, to stop sending spam texts asking people if they want a review of their pension.
An enforcement notice has been issued by the Information Commissioner after a total of 659 complaints were made to the ICO and the ‘7726’ spam text reporting service. People said they had received the following unsolicited marketing text from the Swansea based company:
“As you have over 10k in your pension, your pension has lost £3219.43 over the last few years, to get back & find out your payout reply REVIEW”.
Andy Curry, Enforcement Group Manager at the ICO said:
“The way in which this company has been operating is completely unacceptable. Not only were members of the public receiving text messages they hadn’t signed up for, but the content was completely misleading.
“The complicated investigation revealed a web of lies told by the company as to how they obtained personal information and whether they were sending text messages at all.
“This enforcement notice should send out a strong message to all companies who use unsolicited marketing text messages to stop and think about what they are doing. Once the law changes on 6 April it will be much easier for our office to take action against companies sending spam texts and making nuisance calls.”
The ICO investigation discovered that 187,960 texts were sent by the company over nine months covering subjects like PPI, payday loans, pension reviews and debt management.
It is a breach of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations to send text messages to people for marketing purposes without their prior consent, and anyone who receives anunsolicited text message should avoid replying and report the message using the survey available on the ICO website.
Spam texts can also be reported to the network operator by sending them, free of charge, to '7726'. The networks are also working to block the worst offenders.
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.
This news release is also available in Welsh/Cymraeg
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
If you need more information, please contact the ICO press office on 0303 123 9070 or visit the website at: www.ico.org.uk.
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