Information Commissioner's Office
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Record fine for firm behind nearly 100 million nuisance calls

A company behind 99.5 million nuisance calls has been fined a record £400,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

Keurboom Communications Ltd has been issued the ICO’s highest ever nuisance calls fine after more than 1,000 people complained about recorded – also known as automated – calls.

The calls, made over an 18 month period, related to a wide range of subjects including road traffic accident claims and PPI compensation. Some people received repeat calls, sometimes on the same day and during unsociable hours. The company also hid its identity, making it harder for people to complain.

Companies can only make automated marketing calls to people if they have their specific consent. Keurboom did not have consent so was in breach of the law.

Steve Eckersley, Head of Enforcement at the ICO said:

“Keurboom showed scant regard for the rules, causing upset and distress to people unfortunate enough to be on the receiving end of one its 100million calls.

“The unprecedented scale of its campaign and Keurboom’s failure to co-operate with our investigation has resulted in the largest fine issued by the Information Commissioner for nuisance calls.”

Mr Eckersley said:

“These calls have now stopped - as has Keurboom - but our work has not. We’ll continue to track down companies that blight people’s lives with nuisance calls, texts and emails.”

During the investigation, the ICO issued seven information notices ordering the company, which is registered in Dunstable, Bedfordshire, to provide information to the regulator. When it failed to comply, Keurboom Communications Ltd and its director, Gregory Rudd, were prosecuted and fined at Luton Magistrates’ Court in April 2016. (see notes to editors below)

Following the ICO’s investigation, Keurboom Communications Ltd has been placed in voluntary liquidation. The ICO is committed to recovering the fine by working with the liquidator and insolvency practitioners.

The ICO’s powers will be further strengthened when the government introduces a new law allowing it to fine the company directors behind nuisance call firms. Making directors responsible will stop them avoiding fines by putting their company into liquidation.

In 2016/17, the ICO had its busiest year for nuisance calls issuing 23 companies a total of £1.923 million for nuisance marketing.

The previous record nuisance call fine was in February 2016, when the ICO fined Prodial, a lead generation company, £350,000 for making 46 million nuisance calls.

In September 2016, the ICO fined TalkTalk £400,000 under the Data Protection Act for failing to prevent an attack on its systems.

Notes for Editors

  1. Both Keurboom Communications Ltd and Gregory Rudd pleaded guilty to failing to comply with an information notice when they appeared at Luton Magistrates Court in April 2016. Keurboom was fined £1,500 with £435.95 costs and a victim surcharge of £120. Mr Rudd was fined £1,000 with costs of £435.95 and a victim surcharge of £100.
  2. The Information Commissioner’s Office upholds information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  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. 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.
  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 to ico.org.uk/concerns.
  9. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a new law that will replace the Data Protection Act 1998 and will apply in the UK from 25 May 2018. The government has confirmed that the UK’s decision to leave the EU will not affect the commencement of the GDPR.

 

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