Cold call crackdown clobbers Fulham pension advisor

call oldieThe Information Commissioner’s Office might be without a boss for the next month, with Elizabeth Denham gone and successor John Edwards not joining until January, but its enforcement work against the PECR pests continues, with regulator issuing its largest fine for unlawful pension calls.

The practice of making unsolicited calls about pensions was outlawed in 2019, when the Privacy & Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) law was changed to prevent people falling victim to scams, mostly carried out through cold calls, and potentially losing their pensions.

Since then, a number of firms have been fingered by the ICO, with Halifax-based company Parkin Beacher fined £50,000, London company Pension House Exchange hit for £45,000, and Swansea company CPS Advisory forced to pay £130,000.

The latest miscreant, EB Associates Group of Fulham, London, came to the attention of the ICO during a wider investigation into organisations making pension cold calls. The company had asked lead generators to make calls on its behalf and paid up to £750 for the referrals.

The ICO investigation showed that the EB Associates-instigated marketing campaign made 107,003 unlawful pension cold calls between January 11 2019 and September 30 2019 and that EB Associates did not have the valid consent – freely given, specific and informed – to instigate the making of these calls.

The regulator concluded that EB Associates contracted the lead generators to make the calls, knowing the cold calling ban was in place, in order to try and bypass the law and has issued the firm with a £140,000 penalty.

The ICO has also ordered EB Associates to stop making further illegal calls about pensions or face court action.

ICO head of investigations Andy Curry said: “Our priority is to protect people and we will always take robust action against companies operating illegally for their own financial gain.

“Cold calls about pensions were banned to protect people from scammers trying to cheat them out of their retirement plans.

“We encourage anyone who receives an unexpected call about their pension to hang up and then report it to us.”

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