At last, ICO issues the first PECR penalty in six months

call_2Just when it had seemingly gone all quiet on the Western Front in the war on so-called nuisance calls, a huge bombshell has been dropped from high on a Scottish firm, which has been fined the maximum £500,000 for making more than 193 million unlawful nuisance calls.

The Information Commissioner’s Office has not made a single ruling under PECR since September last year; in fact, its latest newsletter entitled Action on Nuisance Calls contained nothing but advice on dealing with the issue.

But Clydebank-based CRDNN has provided the perfect response for the ICO, having been raided in March 2018, with computer equipment and documents seized for further analysis of their nuisance call operation.

The subsequent ICO investigation revealed that CRDNN was found to be making nearly 1.6 million calls per day about window scrappage, debt management, window, conservatory and boiler sales between June 1 and October 1 2018.

The regulator claims that some of the calls potentially put people’s safety at risk as they were made to Network Rail’s Banavie Control Centre, and clogged up the line for drivers and pedestrians at unmanned level crossings, who were calling to check it was safe to cross the rails.

The calls were all made from so-called “spoofed” numbers, which meant that people who received the calls could not identify who was making them. The company broke the law by not gaining consent from the phone owners to make those calls and by not providing a valid opt out.

CRDNN came to the attention of the ICO when more than 3,000 complaints were made about the nuisance calls.

ICO head of investigations Andy Curry said: “This company affected the lives of millions of people, causing them disruption, annoyance and distress. The volume of calls was immense and to add to people’s frustrations attempting to opt out of those calls simply compounded their receipt of further calls.

“The directors of CRDNN knowingly operated their business with a complete disregard for the law. They did all they could to evade detection, from changing and not updating address details to transferring their operation abroad and attempting to go into liquidation. That’s why their conduct called for the maximum fine possible under the law.

“But through the cooperation of the public who brought their complaints to us, we were able to identify those responsible and take action against them.”

CRDNN has also been issued with an enforcement notice ordering it to comply with the PECR laws within 35 days of receipt of the notice.

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