A company which co-ordinated millions of nuisance calls from a cottage in a Manchester suburb has been handed a legal “stop” order by the ICO.

Advanced Voip Solutions Ltd operated out of Eyebrow Cottage, a Grade II listed building in the south Manchester town of Sale.

From there, the firm co-ordinated millions of unsolicited automated calls, as one of a network of firms profiting from breaking the law. Today, the ICO has ordered the companies to stop or face legal action.

The independent regulator has issued enforcement notices to two other associated companies, Money Help Marketing Ltd and Preferred Pension LLP which generated leads from a call centre in the same town. A fourth company, The Review Experts Ltd, has been dissolved.

Andy Curry, group enforcement manager at the ICO, said:

“It is clear that millions of automated marketing calls were being co-ordinated from this cottage. The leads generated would have been used by this network of firms to make sizeable profits.

“This and the other companies involved, showed a blatant disregard of the law and we have taken action that will force them to stop. We also continue to look at whether it’s appropriate to issue a fine to any of the companies.”

The ICO’s investigation was sparked by 6,000 complaints about the automated calls which covered mis-sold pensions, PPI, debt management and delayed flight compensation.

The ICO traced the calls back to the four companies and raided their premises in June 2015, seizing equipment believed to have been used in the operation.

Mr Curry said:

“Unfortunately, it’s surprisingly easy to set up an operation that makes automated calls because you don’t need specialist equipment, a huge staff or fancy premises.

“But they can’t hide from us. We’ll continue to keep one step ahead of them and crack down on illegal practices.”

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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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;
  • secure; and
  • not transferred to other countries without adequate protection.
  1. 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.

  1. To report a concern to the ICO telephone our helpline 0303 123 1113 or go to ico.org.uk/concerns/