The genteel seaside resort of Bognor Regis may not have hit the headlines much since King George V’s alleged final words of “Bugger Bognor”, but one company in the town has ruffled more than a few feathers after becoming the first business to feel the wrath of the data regulator since it took over policing the Telephone Preference Service.
IT Protect has been fined £40,000 after being found to have made nuisance calls to people to sell them a call blocking device, many of whom were already registered on the TPS.
The business told the Information Commissioner’s Office that it had purchased a list of people and phone numbers from another firm. But the ICO’s investigation, which involved support from West Sussex Trading Standards, found IT Protect had not carried out sufficient checks to ensure that the people on the list had given consent to receive the calls.
ICO head of enforcement Steve Eckersley said: “Our investigation was aided by members of the public reporting the nuisance calls they’d received from IT Protect to us. They told us the firm had preyed on the elderly and misled people by giving the impression they were working with BT.”
“Firms must take reasonable steps to ensure the law is followed when they’re buying lists of people’s personal details. IT Protect did not do this, resulting in distress for people receiving the calls – and an ICO fine.”
One complainant said: “I answered the call on behalf of my elderly father. She asked for my deceased mother and then my father. She then asked if he was registered with the TPS. I confirmed he was. I was then asked for £1.80 a month to stop phone calls. My father has dementia and would probably have followed their instructions.”
The ICO took over responsibility for overseeing the TPS from Ofcom in December 2016. Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said at the time: “Transfer of the TPS to us will mean complaints to it about rogue cold callers will be passed even more efficiently to our enforcement officers. That will give us more information about the culprits and help in our bid to come down hard on the law breakers and stop nuisance calls.”
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