The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) Financial Recovery Unit (FRU) is starting proceedings to retrieve £250,000 from defunct company Pownall Marketing Limited (PML). The company was recently fined by the ICO for making over 350,000 nuisance calls.
PML came to the attention of the ICO when it began receiving complaints about nuisance marketing calls, relating to claims management services, made by the company. The ICO’s investigation found that 365,369 calls had been made between 1 January and 28 May 2019 to people who had not consented to receive them. The law banning unsolicited calls for direct marketing purposes in relation to claims management services came into force in September 2018.
The FRU has blocked PML’s application to strike itself off the Companies House register three times, ensuring the ICO can continue regulatory action. If the company fails to pay the penalty then the FRU will take appropriate action to recover the debt, which may involve petitioning for the winding up of the company and exercising the ICO’s full rights as a creditor in any insolvency.
Andy Curry, Head of Investigations at the ICO said:
“Despite this company’s attempt to formally cease trading, we continued with our enforcement action due to the seriousness of the contraventions, and because we can take further action against the director.
“Nuisance calls are both an annoyance and an intrusion into people’s daily lives and we will always seek to find a way to bring businesses and their owners operating with a blatant disregard of the law to account.”
The FRU is responsible for the recovery of ICO monetary penalties issued under the Data Protection Act 2018 and the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR). The ICO can take informal action, such as authorising payment plans, and more formal action including the issuing of, and petitioning for, the winding up of companies and the bankruptcy of individuals.
Notes to Editors
- The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) 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.
- The law banning nuisance calls from claims management companies is contained in regulation 21A of PECR.
- The ICO has the power under PECR to impose a monetary penalty on a data controller of up to £500,000.
- The ICO also works with other enforcement agencies to obstruct non-compliant directors which can result in director disqualifications for a maximum of fifteen years, further civil action or criminal prosecutions.
- 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).