A company behind a record high 146 million illegal calls about PPI has been fined £350,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
People were left feeling harassed and threatened by the recorded – also known as automated – calls initiated by Carmarthenshire-based Your Money Rights Ltd.
The company was responsible for the most amount of automated calls to result in an ICO fine to date.
Firms can only make automated marketing calls to people if they have their specific consent. Your Money Rights did not have consent so was in breach of the law.
The calls, made over a four month period, also broke the rules by not including the company’s name and contact details in the recorded message.
Steve Eckersley, ICO Head of Enforcement, said:
"We’re cracking down on illegal automated calls on behalf of the British public. They are a blight on society that disregards people’s right to have their wish for peace and quiet in their own home respected.
"We know people find calls playing recorded messages particularly intrusive because they are unable to speak to a call agent. Your Money Rights should have known that the law around automated calls is stricter than for other marketing calls."
Following the ICO’s investigation, the directors of Your Money Rights Ltd, which is based in Ammanford, Carmarthenshire, but has its registered address is Darlington, are seeking to dissolve the company. The ICO is committed to recovering the fine and will work with insolvency practitioners and the liquidator if the company moves to insolvency.
The ICO’s powers will be further strengthened when the government introduces a new law allowing it to fine the company directors behind nuisance call firms. Making directors responsible will stop them avoiding fines by putting their company into liquidation.
Mr Eckersley said:
"A change in law to make directors personally liable for illegal marketing calls can’t come soon enough.
"If a firm goes out of business to try and duck an ICO fine then they’re no longer making troublesome nuisance calls. But the new law will increase the tools we have to go after them and hold them fully accountable for the harassment, annoyance and disruption they’ve caused."
Examples of complaints the ICO received about the calls include:
- "I feel threatened by these unsolicited and frequent nuisance calls and am concerned that if I follow one of the options I will be drawn into a scam."
- "They are calling twice a day. It drives me insane. I have a very sick relative I help care for so need to answer the phone."
- "I feel harassed by these continuous automated calls that I have not requested."
- "These are unsolicited calls that are becoming unbearable due to their persistence, regularity (1-2 per day) and interruption of my daily activities, usually close to meal times. It's time they were stopped!"
- "I am exceptionally annoyed that these companies are allowed to intrude into my home and not even have the decency to have a real person on the line."
Nuisance calls can be reported via the ICO’s online reporting tool.
People can complain about PPI themselves for free, without using a claims company. More information about this is available from the FCA.
Notes to Editors
- The Information Commissioner’s Office upholds 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 1998, the Freedom of Information Act 2000, Environmental Information Regulations 2004 and Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003.
- 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.
- The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a new law which will apply in the UK from 25 May 2018. The Government has confirmed the UK’s decision to leave the EU will not affect the commencement of the GDPR. The Government is introducing measures related to this and wider data protection reforms in a Data Protection Bill.
- 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.
- 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.
- Any monetary penalty is paid into the Treasury’s Consolidated Fund and is not kept by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
- To report a concern to the ICO telephone our helpline 0303 123 1113 or go to ico.org.uk/concerns.