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 issued fines totalling £270,000 to two separate companies for making unlawful marketing calls to numbers registered with the Telephone Preference Service (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.

Call Centre Ops of Nottingham and House Guard of Bournemouth, were found to have made almost 860,000 illegal calls between them, resulting in complaints to both the ICO and the TPS.

The ICO’s investigation found that Call Centre Ops, a marketing company, made a total of 159,461 unsolicited direct marketing calls between May and October 2019. They have been fined £120,000.

A person who received a call from Call Centre Ops complained:

“Claimed not to be a sales call, but wanted to sell life insurance. Told firmly I was on TPS and they had no right to contact me, to which they answered it didn't apply as it wasn't a sales call. Obviously told them quite firmly what I thought of them”

House Guards of Bournemouth, which provides masonry protection solutions, was found to have made 699,966 nuisance calls between May and December 2018, over half of which were to TPS-registered numbers. They have been fined £150,000.

One person who received a call from House Guard, complained:

”I was busy doing my work and expecting a call from a client when the nuisance call was a rude and annoying interruption. When I mentioned I would report her, she told me to go ahead.”

Andy Curry, ICO Head of Investigations, said:

“If you sign up to the TPS, you should not expect to get nuisance calls. It’s as simple as that. Companies that have no respect for their customers’ wishes and choose to flout the law, can expect to face consequences – for their reputation and to their bottom line.”

He added:

“By complaining via the TPS and the ICO, the public help us hold these companies to account. We encourage people to sign up to the free TPS service and report any unwanted calls they receive to the ICO.”

The TPS is a free service for mobile and landline phone users that allows people to opt out of receiving cold calls. The ICO became responsible for overseeing the TPS in December 2016.

To comply with the law, companies carrying out electronic marketing should subscribe to the TPS to receive the register of subscribers to screen against their own call lists.

People 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.

The ICO uses that intelligence to inform and focus its investigations.

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 UK 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.