Halifax-based company Parkin Beacher has become the latest firm to fall foul of the crackdown on illegal marketing to people about their pensions.
In January 2019, the Privacy & Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR), which cover marketing calls, emails and texts, were changed to prevent people falling victim to scams, mostly carried out through cold calls, and potentially losing their pensions.
Under the changes, it is illegal for companies to call people about their pension schemes except where the caller is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority, or is the trustee or manager of an occupational or personal pension scheme, or if the recipient of the call consents to calls, or has an existing relationship with the caller.
But Parkin Beacher, which operates under the trading name “Your Pension Options”, completely ignored the law, making 96,817 calls without consent.
Perhaps surprisingly, the Information Commissioner’s Office received just 16 complaints from people about the company’s activities but this was enough to spark an investigation.
The ICO found that the firm sourced the data for its calls from a third-party data supplier which obtained the data from various websites. These sites required those signing up to them to agree to possible marketing from long lists of sectors and organisations.
People appeared unable to select which, if any, they were happy to have their details passed on to, or receive marketing material from. The company therefore did not have informed consent from the people it called.
The ICO found that the firm made calls to people relating to possible pension reviews, with a view to arranging an introduction to an adviser.
Fining the firm £50,000, ICO head of investigations Andy Curry said: “Cold calls are a common way of attempting to defraud people out of their pensions and we will take tough action where we find companies carrying out this kind of marketing. The law was updated specifically to protect these often vulnerable people and their retirement funds.
“Companies are responsible for knowing the law and following it. We have a range of powers and enforcement action which we can and will take on behalf of the public to put a stop to the activities of unscrupulous companies.”
The ICO has also issued Parkin Beacher with an enforcement notice ordering it to stop making further calls.
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