London company Pension House Exchange (PHE) has been fined £45,000 for making more than 39,000 nuisance calls to people about their pensions.
Last year, the law changed to limit who can call people about their pensions and this week the ICO has fined a second company for flouting the law.
After raiding PHE’s offices as part of an investigation, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) found that PHE staff connected with people on LinkedIn and harvested their contact details to target them with direct marketing calls relating to pensions schemes.
Andy Curry, ICO Head of Investigations, said:
“Unwanted pensions calls can cause real distress and can result in people experiencing significant financial harm. The public have every right to expect companies to follow the law and should not feel harassed or pressured into making life-changing decisions on the basis of cold calls or messages received out of the blue.
“Companies shouldn’t call you to discuss your pension, unless you have given your consent or you’ve previously dealt with the company. If you do receive an unwanted pensions call, it’s important to report it to the ICO. Every report helps us to take action and stop these nuisance calls.”
The Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR), which covers marketing calls, emails and texts were updated in January 2019 to better protect people falling victim to pensions scams.
Under the law, companies can only phone and talk to people about their occupational or personal pensions if:
- the caller is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), or is the trustee or manager of an occupational or personal pension scheme, and
- the recipient of the call consents to calls, or has an existing relationship with the caller.
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.
- 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 telephone our helpline 0303 123 1113 or go to ico.org.uk/concerns.