- Company fined £200,000 for nuisance call campaign
- It’s OK Ltd made 1,752,149 nuisance calls over 11-month period, representing average of over three calls per minute
- Elderly and vulnerable potentially targeted
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has today fined It’s OK Ltd £200,000 for what it called a “sustained and exploitative campaign” of nuisance calls.
It’s OK Ltd have been found to have made 1,752,149 nuisance calls over the period 1 July 2019 to 1 June 2020 to people registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS), representing an average of over three calls every minute.
It is against the law to make a live marketing call to anyone who is registered with the TPS, unless they have told the specific organisation that they do not object to receiving calls from them.
Some complaints received by the ICO suggested that the company would attempt to mislead individuals that their white good warranties had expired and encourage them to pay for services they may not have needed.
The ICO’s investigation also found evidence to suggest that It’s OK Ltd were potentially targeting elderly individuals.
“We are always happy to support legitimate companies who want to comply with the law. Last year, we released updated direct marketing guidance to help those very businesses.
“That is, however, not what was happening here. The actions of this company represented a sustained and exploitative campaign potentially targeting the most vulnerable. Pressure tactics, misleading statements and contacting individuals who are registered on the TPS is shameful behaviour.
“In taking this action, we say to the public that we will continue to be on your side and protect you, and we say to any other organisation operating outside of the law that we will pursue every case like this brought to us to the fullest extent.”
- Andy Curry, ICO Head of Investigations
Examples of some of the complaints received include:
“They called my Mum (who is 82) & bambozzeled [sic] her into talking [sic] out an extended warranty on her 10 year old washing machine - they talked into paying them £194 including VAT - I then sent them an e mail to cancel and they kept calling trying to get her to keep it - this is not ok”. [sic]
“They try to con you into thinking they are your washing machine insurers and it needs to be renewed and they need to check your bank details. I am insured with Domestic and General. When asked their name they hung up”. [sic]
“I have been mis-sold a Service Plan total cost of £194.40 for my washing machine. I was informed that my current service plan was due to expire and it needed to be renewed. I renewed it and I have been told that I am not eligible to receive an engineer visit for a service. It’s OK Ltd has received £194.40 from me a pensioner and will not provide a service. I think many people are scammed”. [sic]
“Tried to rush me into renewing warranty on washing implying warranty had expired recently. Actually warranty expired years ago.” [sic]
Advice for members of the public
To help you, your friends and relatives stop unlawful marketing calls you can:
- Register landlines and mobile numbers with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) free of charge. The TPS is a register used by legitimate marketing companies to identify people who have said they don’t want to receive marketing calls. Alternatively, you can tell the company directly that you do not wish to be contacted.
- Be bold. You do not owe these callers your time, your courtesy nor your money. So, hang up and report any nuisance calls you receive to the ICO using our online nuisance calls reporting tool.
- Refer concerns that you or someone you know has been the victim of fraud to Action Fraud (in England, Northern Ireland and Wales) and Police Scotland (in Scotland); wider concerns about a business’ practices can be referred to Trading Standards; any abandoned calls that you receive to Ofcom;
- If your loved one is particularly vulnerable – for example, if they have dementia or other underlying health conditions – then you can speak to their telephone network to see what call blocking solutions may be available to support them. Many of these services are provided free of charge.
Every complaint counts, with the ICO issuing over £2 million in penalties against rogue companies responsible for nuisance calls, texts and emails in 2022. Some of these investigations began with a single complaint from a member of the public. The ICO routinely works closely with other regulators and industry partners to share intelligence and take targeted action against companies and directors responsible for initiating nuisance calls.
For more information about the ICO’s work to tackle nuisance calls visit ico.org.uk/nuisancecalls.