The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has fined two home improvement companies a total of £250,000 for bombarding people on the UK’s ‘do not call’ register with millions of unlawful marketing calls.
Poxell Ltd, registered in Wood Green, London, and Skean Homes Ltd, based in Bournemouth, both made unsolicited marketing calls to people registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) while withholding their identity.
Poxell Ltd has been fined £150,000 by the ICO for making over 2.6 million unlawful marketing calls between March and July 2022 to people who had registered with the TPS. This resulted in 413 complaints to the ICO and TPS.
Complaints indicated that the company, which claimed to specialise in energy saving products such as double glazing as well as resin driveways, made calls to individuals with dementia and other serious illnesses. Complainants also stated they had been called repeatedly by a “very aggressive” salesperson.
The ICO’s investigation found that Poxell Ltd had purchased several telephone lines in a bid to avoid detection. The company did not engage with the investigation and continued to make unlawful marketing calls until their account was finally terminated by their communications service provider.
Skean Homes Ltd has also been fined £100,000 for instigating over 600,000 unsolicited marketing calls between March and May 2022 to people who had registered with the TPS. The contact from Skean Homes Ltd resulted in 31 complaints.
The company, which claimed to help improve energy efficiency and reduce household bills, used various false names during the calls, such as ‘Eco Hub,’ ‘Driveway Solutions’ and Eco Driveways’. Complaints revealed that the calls were promoting everything from loft insultation to resin driveways, and that the company sometimes claimed to be part of the local council.
Skean Homes Ltd refused to take responsibility for the unlawful marketing calls, claiming they had allowed their lead generation provider to temporarily use their caller identities (CLIs) and that TPS checks failed due to a technical error. The ICO’s investigation found no evidence that a third party was using the CLIs when the unsolicited calls were made.
It is against the law for organisations to make marketing calls to anyone signed up with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) and Corporate Telephone Preference Service (CTPS), which operate a “do not call” register, unless the individual or business has explicitly consented to receive these calls.
“People register with the TPS for a clear reason: to stop unwanted marketing contact and protect their privacy. Both these companies have not only broken the law by failing to check the ‘do not call’ register, but also caused distress and disruption to those they bombarded with unwanted and unlawful calls.
“These fines should send a clear message that companies cannot use third parties or multiple phone numbers to avoid detection and taking responsibility for illegal calls. We will take decisive action to ensure the public are protected from nuisance marketing.”
- Andy Curry, ICO Head of Investigations
In addition to the fines, the ICO has also issued an Enforcement Notice to both companies, ordering them to stop calling people registered with the TPS, or who had previously objected to such calls.
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) and the Corporate Telephone Preference Service (CTPS) free of charge. The TPS and CTPS is a register used by legitimate marketing companies to identify people and businesses that 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.
The ICO enforces the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003 (PECR), which cover the rules for organisations wishing to make direct marketing calls, texts or emails.
For more information about the ICO’s work to tackle nuisance calls and texts visit ico.org.uk/nuisancecalls.
Notes for editors
- The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is the UK’s independent regulator for data protection and information rights law, upholding 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 2018 (DPA2018), the United Kingdom General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR), the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA), Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR), Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003 (PECR) and a further five acts and regulations.
- The ICO can take action to address and change the behaviour of organisations and individuals that collect, use and keep personal information. This includes criminal prosecution, non-criminal enforcement and audit.
- To report a concern to the ICO telephone our helpline 0303 123 1113 or go to ico.org.uk/concerns.