The Information Commissioner’s Office is continuing its crackdown on predatory telemarketing to people registered with the Telephone Preference Service, dishing out fines totalling £370,000 to four companies for making more than 820,000 illegal calls.
The ICO started its proactive investigation into predatory marketing calls generated by the sector in 2020, after vouchers of up to £5,000 were offered to home owners to improve energy efficiency.
As the ICO had previously seen with “green scheme” and other initiatives, complaints soon came in from people who had been called regarding loft, window and wall insulation.
All of the complainants were registered with the TPS; many were vulnerable or elderly, with some having ongoing health conditions, including cancer and Alzheimer’s and some who were already dead.
While the regulator has faced criticism over its GDPR enforcement, only the churlish could argue against its record on the Privacy & Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR), even though the penalties the ICO issues are not always big enough for some and it has yet to unleash some of its new powers, including making company directors personally liable for fines.
Even so, the latest ICO investigation found the companies were deliberately or negligently flouting electronic marketing laws to make a profit. Some also used different trading names, this is illegal.
First in the dock was Eco Spray Insulations, based in Eastleigh, Hampshire, which made 178,190 calls to TPS registered people and was in the top 20 most complained about organisations to the ICO for three months in 2020.
The company used data sourced from two brokers but failed to carry out any due diligence checks or screen against the TPS register. The ICO investigation found Eco Spray deliberately made calls for financial gain, was ignorant of the law and had inadequate record keeping. The company has been fined £100,000.
Newcastle-under-Lyme-based Euroseal Windows, meanwhile, made 169,830 calls to TPS registered people in 2020. The company sourced data from door to door canvassers and four brokers.
The ICO investigation found Euroseal deliberately made the calls to generate income and failed to keep a record of people who did not want to receive calls. The company has been fined £80,000 and issued with an enforcement notice.
Next up is Green Logic UK of Derby which made 11,825 calls in 2020 using data sourced from a number of companies. The company assumed the data was compliant with the law but did not check and used three different names when making calls.
Green Logic failed to engage with the ICO and continued to make calls while the investigation was ongoing. The ICO also found Green Logic’s calls were misleading and persistent, and all made for financial gain. Green Logic has been fined £40,000 and issued with an enforcement notice.
Finally, Posh Windows UK based in Stoke-on-Trent made 461,062 calls between August 2020 and April 2021 using details sourced from a data marketing company.
During the investigation Posh Windows made various claims regarding its compliance with electronic marketing laws but was unable to provide any evidence in support of this. The company’s responses to the ICO were vague, evasive and contradictory. Posh Windows has been fined £150,000.
ICO head of investigations Andy Curry said: “The complaints we received showed that people were distressed, upset, worried and inconvenienced by the calls. For people to feel this way, in their own homes where they should feel safe, is unacceptable.
“These companies all aggressively pestered people, including some vulnerable individuals, forcibly trying to make them buy products that they didn’t need or want. All of the calls were driven solely by the companies wish to make financial gain.
“We will continue to take strong action to protect the public by investigating and taking enforcement measures against companies where we find that they have flouted the law.”
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