A Greater Manchester used-car dealer that sent hundreds of thousands of spam texts has been fined £40,000.

Concept Car Credit Limited, which is based in Radcliffe, was issued with the penalty following an investigation by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

The investigation found the company, which offers both car finance and cars for sale, had broken the law about how firms can use people’s details to send marketing texts.

Steve Eckersley, ICO Head of Enforcement, said:

“The mass sending of over 300,000 marketing text messages without following the rules is simply not on.

“We have published clear guidance on how to comply with the law and have a helpline which gives businesses further advice. There’s no excuse for getting it wrong and intruding into people’s everyday lives with spam texts.”

The company told the ICO it had obtained the data used to send the messages from other organisations. As the instigator of the texts it was Concept Car Credit Limited’s responsibility to ensure it was only texting people who had consented to receive the marketing. The firm failed to do this.

Alongside the fine, the ICO has also issued an enforcement notice ordering the company to stop sending unlawful texts in the future. If the company does not comply with the notice, it could face court action.

People can report nuisance calls, texts and emails at ico.org.uk. Spam texts can also be reported by forwarding them to 7726. 

The ICO has published detailed guidance for firms carrying out direct marketing by phone, text, email, post or fax.

 

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. 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. The rules on electronic mail marketing (which includes text messages) are in regulation 22 of PECR. In short, you must not send electronic mail marketing to individuals, unless:
    • they have specifically consented to electronic mail from you; or
    • they are an existing customer who bought (or negotiated to buy) a similar product or service from you in the past, and you gave them a simple way to opt out both when you first collected their details and in every message you have sent.

      You must not disguise or conceal your identity, and you must provide a valid contact address so they can opt out or unsubscribe.
  1. The ICO took over responsibility for overseeing the TPS from Ofcom in December 2016. The TPS is a free service for mobile and landline phone users that allows them to opt out of receiving cold calls.
  1. 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.
  1. Any monetary penalty is paid into the Treasury’s Consolidated Fund and is not kept by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
  1. To report a concern to the ICO telephone our helpline 0303 123 1113 or go to ico.org.uk/concerns.