Company bosses are being warned of the dire consequences of not carrying out stringent checks into the marketing data they source from third-party suppliers after Ocean Finance was whacked with a £130,000 fine for using illegally-gathered information.
The company sent a total of 7.7 million text messages over six months, offering a new credit card powered by a major lender.
Manchester-based Intelligent Lending, which owns Ocean Finance, believed it was complying with the law because the third party firm it had obtained names and phone numbers from claimed it had people’s consent to send texts.
But an Information Commissioner’s Office investigation found the consent was insufficient to meet the requirements of the law.
More than 1,900 complaints were made about the texts to the 7726 spam reporting service and the ICO. One complainant said: “Very worried that my personal information is being handed around…I feel this is very stressful and am wondering who knows what about me.”
Another stated: “I do not like to think of random companies that I have nothing to do with storing my details to intrude upon my life, offering me things I have no interest in. It makes me angry to think that they are obtaining or using my number illegally.”
As well as a £130,000 fine, the ICO has issued Intelligent Lending with an enforcement notice ordering it to stop sending spam texts. It is not known whether the data supplier now faces action, too.
ICO head of enforcement Steve Eckersley said: “Company bosses everywhere should sit up and take note of this fine and check their practices are compliant with the law before embarking on marketing campaigns.
“It’s your responsibility to make rigorous checks to ensure personal data has been obtained fairly and lawfully. It’s not enough to rely on the word of a third party.”
He added: “We have made it easier for people to report organisations responsible for unlawful marketing practices and they have in their thousands.”
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