The Telephone Preference Service might be shrinking, with over 5 million inactive and invalid numbers being deleted since last year, but enforcement action continues apace after a Scottish business became the latest to have its collar felt for abusing the system.
Clydebank-based boiler replacement firm Making it Easy made it extremely easy for the ICO to act after it was found to have made one million marketing calls between May 2018 and December 2018, with 853,769 of them being made to people registered with the TPS. That means that 80% of all marketing calls made by the firm during that period were unlawful.
The regulator has slapped the firm with a £160,000 fine and also issued an enforcement notice to Making it Easy ordering it to stop its illegal marketing activity – or else.
The ICO and the TPS received nearly 200 complaints about the company, with most people saying that, despite being able to see the number of the caller, they could not identify the firm to be able to report their concerns.
One complainant said: “I cannot find any company details for this number. They claim to be National Heating Advisory Service.” Another added: “They call themselves the Heating Advice Centre and all speak with Scottish accent despite the [number] being a Swansea STD code.”
The company names provided by the complainants were not listed as a trading name of Making it Easy , but the ICO traced the identified phone numbers back to the firm.
Making it Easy told the ICO it purchased the data used to make the calls from a third party but that it did not have a contract. The company also did not screen the numbers against the TPS register nor could it provide evidence of consent being given, in contravention of the Privacy & Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR).
ICO director of investigations Stephen Eckersley said: “Making it Easy made a substantial number of marketing calls to people who had made clear that they did not want to receive them. They also deliberately gave vague and misleading information to people they called, and failed to take basic steps to ensure it had valid consent to make these calls. This is unacceptable, it is against the law and we will continue to hold firms to account and issue fines if necessary.”
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