ICO crackdown on nuisance calls reaches 100 year milestone

28 Feb 2019 11:52 AM

Investigations by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) into nuisance marketing have resulted in 16 company directors being banned from running a company for more than 100 years in total.

The latest ban, issued by the Insolvency Service, is effective from 1 March 2019 and disqualifies one of the worst offenders the ICO has seen since the laws were introduced 15 years ago.

Richard Jones, 31, of Carmarthen, South Wales has been barred from being a company director for eight years after his two companies, Your Money Rights Ltd and Miss-Sold Products UK Ltd were responsible for 220 million automated nuisance calls and failed to pay fines issued by the ICO.

Most of the calls made were about payment protection insurance (PPI) claims and resulted in total fines of £700,000 in 2017.

Mr Jones had applied to Companies House to have the businesses wound up to avoid paying the fines. This was blocked by the ICO which then referred the case on to the Insolvency Service.

The ICO has reached this key milestone by working in partnership with the Insolvency Service, referring evidence which can result in company directors being disqualified for up to 15 years.

Andy Curry, ICO Investigations Group Manager, yesterday said:

”Nuisance calls are a blight on people’s lives. We are partnering with the Insolvency Service to disrupt and obstruct unscrupulous operators like Richard Jones who cause misery and distress to their victims.

“Directors of rogue companies like him who try to shut down their businesses to avoid paying our fine and carry on their illegal activities under another company name should not expect to get away with it.

“This is typical of the type of case we refer to the Insolvency Service, where companies are making a high volume of calls, texts or emails and where there is a high risk they will continue to flout the law even after we have taken action.”

David Brooks, Chief Investigator for the Insolvency Service, yesterday said:

“Nuisance marketing communications not only flagrantly breach regulations, but cause untold anguish and grief for a substantial number of people.

“One hundred years’ worth of bans is a significant landmark and we will continue to work closely with the ICO so that we can prevent rogue company directors from causing any more harm.”

The 16 directors have been disqualified for a total of 107.5 years, these include more recent cases such as: Shaun Harkin, Easyleads Ltd, six years; Keith Hancock of LAD Media, four years; Aaron Stalberg, Lead Experts, six years.

New legislation which came into force in December 2018 means that the ICO now has powers to make company directors and other company officers personally liable for the fines imposed for illegal marketing.

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 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the Freedom of Information Act 2000, Environmental Information Regulations 2004 and Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003.
  3. The Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) 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. The ICO has the power under PECR to impose a monetary penalty on a data controller of up to £500,000.
  2. 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.
  3. Any monetary penalty is paid into the Treasury’s Consolidated Fund and is not kept by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
  4. To report a concern to the ICO, visit ico.org.uk/concerns.