The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has fined Smart Home Protection Ltd £90,000 for making nuisance calls to people registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS).
The Staffordshire company was behind 118,000 unlawful marketing calls made between January 2017 and September 2018 to people registered with the TPS.
It is against the law to make marketing calls to numbers that have been registered with the TPS for more than 28 days, unless people have provided consent.
The ICO received 125 complaints about the company, including:
“I have physical movement difficulties and I am sick of having to get up and answer unwanted calls. They are preying on the fears of criminal activity against people at home.”
Other complainants stated the script used by the company was designed to imply crime rates in the area were on the rise and that they had a connection with the local police.
The ICO also found that Smart Home Protection had a cloud-based dialler system which suppressed TPS listed numbers, but at the time the service was not enabled. The firm also purchased third party data without undertaking any sufficient due diligence, to check whether they had the consent to call people.
Stephen Eckersley, ICO’s Director of Investigations, said:
“Smart Home Protection has been in business for many years, so they should have been fully aware of their data protection obligations. It is a company’s responsibility to check the TPS and make sure that it has valid consent to make marketing calls. If they don’t, they can expect robust enforcement."
The advice for people who receive nuisance marketing calls, emails and texts is to ask the company to remove their details from their lists, read the small print and be careful about ticking boxes which could give them consent to contact you and to report them to the ICO.
Companies that carry out electronic marketing and want to make sure they are complying with the law, should subscribe to the TPS for a fee to get the register of subscribers to screen against their own call lists. Further advice is available on the ICO website.
The ICO has the power to issue fines up to £500,000 to firms who carry out nuisance marketing under the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR).
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 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the Freedom of Information Act 2000, Environmental Information Regulations 2004 and Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003.
- The Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) 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.
- The ICO has the power under PECR to impose a monetary penalty on a data controller of up to £500,000.
- 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, visit ico.org.uk/concerns.