The UK’s independent authority set up to uphold information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has fined Reliance Advisory Limited (RAL) £250,000 for breaking electronic marketing law.                 

The ICO found that over a six month period from the start of 2019, the Bury-based company RAL made 15.1 million calls in relation to claims management services such as mis-sold PPI. All of the calls, of which 1.1 million connected, were made to people who had not consented to receive them.  

The ICO received 85 complaints from members of the public about the persistent calls they were receiving multiple times a day. A number noted the aggressive and rude nature of the callers and highlighted the distress it was causing them.

“They call when my baby is asleep and wake her up. They disrupt my day. My husband is in the military and can rarely call me, when they call, I think it’s him and then I’m disappointed it’s them again.”

“I receive 3 or 4 calls a day from this number. I have asked them to stop calling and now they are calling 3 or 4 times a day. I have just lost my mum and have told them to stop but they have been making more calls.” [sic]

“Asking about PPI she said has been given information about my PPI (not true). I told her she shouldn’t be calling and she became very rude. I told her that I hadn’t given permission for PPI calls and it was illegal, she became rude and loud.” [sic]

Andy Curry, Head of Investigations at the ICO, said:

“Nuisance calls continue to be a matter of great distress, annoyance and significant concern for the public and we will continue to find and take action against the worst offenders.

“The law exists for a reason, and that is to protect people from this high degree of intrusion into their private lives. Businesses must respect the law and the onus is on them to be aware of their responsibilities. Pleading ignorance of the rules, as was put forward in this case, will never be a valid argument.

“We encourage members of the public to report nuisance calls, texts and emails to us”.

During the ICO’s investigation, RAL were unable to provide evidence of consent for the majority of calls it made. Where it did provide evidence, for data that it had purchased in the previous 30 days, the consent was found to have not been freely given, specific or informed. RAL also argued that it was not aware of its responsibilities under the law.

The law banning unsolicited calls for direct marketing purposes in relation to claims management services came into force on 8 September 2018. It is contained in regulation 21A of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003.

Members of the public who believe they have been the victim of nuisance texts, calls or emails, should report them to the ICO, get in touch via live chat or call our helpline on 0303 123 1113.

Notes to Editors

  1. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) 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 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the Freedom of Information Act 2000, Environmental Information Regulations 2004 and Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003.
  3. 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.
  4. The ICO has the power under PECR to impose a monetary penalty on a data controller of up to £500,000.
  5. 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.
  6. Any monetary penalty is paid into the Treasury’s Consolidated Fund and is not kept by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
  7. To report a concern to the ICO telephone our helpline 0303 123 1113 or go to ico.org.uk/concerns.