The ICO has fined Halifax-based company Parkin Beacher Ltd (PBL) £50,000 for making illegal marketing calls to people about their pensions.
The business, which operates under the trading name ‘Your Pension Options’, called people about their pensions when they were not authorised to do so. This is against the law.
The ban on pensions cold-calling came into force in 2019 making it illegal for companies to make nuisance calls to people about their pension schemes except where:
- 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
Andy Curry, ICO Head of Investigations, said:
”Cold calls are a common way of attempting to defraud people out of their pensions and we will take tough action where we find companies carrying out this kind of marketing. The law was updated specifically to protect these often vulnerable people and their retirement funds.
“Companies are responsible for knowing the law and following it. We have a range of powers and enforcement action which we can and will take on behalf of the public to put a stop to the activities of unscrupulous companies.”
The ICO’s investigation found that PBL made calls to people relating to possible pension reviews, with a view to arranging an introduction to an adviser.
The company admitted to making 96,817 calls and the ICO received 16 complaints from people about the company’s activities.
The ICO’s investigation found that that PBL sourced the data for its calls from a third-party data supplier which obtained the data from various websites. These sites required those signing up to them to agree to possible marketing from long lists of sectors and organisations. People appeared unable to select which, if any, they were happy to have their details passed on to, or receive marketing material from. PBL therefore did not have informed consent from the people it called.
The ICO has also issued PBL with an Enforcement Notice ordering them to stop making further calls.
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 UK 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’s powers under the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) which cover nuisance marketing include issuing fines of up to £500,000. It can also apply for court orders for winding-up companies and, by working closely with partners, get director’s disqualified. More details of this work are available here.
- 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.