A Liverpool firm which made more than 100,000 nuisance calls has been fined £70,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

The Lead Experts Limited was responsible for 111,072 automated calls to people who had not agreed to be contacted in this way. This is against the law.

The firm said it had bought people’s contact details from another company and then paid it to carry out the calls, which were about reducing energy bills. But an ICO investigation found that The Lead Experts were responsible for ensuring they had the necessary consents to make the calls.

Steve Eckersley, ICO Head of Enforcement, said:

“Companies cannot hide behind paying another firm to make the calls for them. They must take responsibility and, ultimately accept the consequences if they break the law.”

Following the ICO’s investigation, Companies House posted plans for The Lead Experts to be struck off and dissolved. The ICO has made clear that it is committed to recovering fines it has issued and will work with insolvency practitioners and liquidators if a company moves to insolvency after being fined.

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.

Nuisance calls can be reported via the ICO’s online reporting tool. Automated calls about energy saving and home improvements accounted for 27 per cent of those reported to the ICO in August.

The ICO has also issued a legal notice ordering The Lead Experts to ensure its practices comply with the law.

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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Any monetary penalty is paid into the Treasury’s Consolidated Fund and is not kept by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
  8. To report a concern to the ICO telephone our helpline 0303 123 1113 or go to ico.org.uk/concerns.