The Information Commissioner’s Office is continuing to plough through its huge backlog of cases with its latest enforcement action taking down a PPI claims management company for sending millions of unlawful spam texts about its services.
Hall & Hanley Ltd of Devonshire Street North, Manchester, has been fined £120,000 after being found guilty of sending 3,560,211 direct marketing text messages between January 1 2018 and June 26 2018 about PPI compensation claims.
The company was launched in 2011 by two directors, Kaleda Yeasmin and Urfan Bhatti, who also just so happens to be a director of a firm called Hall & Hanley Utility. On August 14 last year, Hall & Hanley Ltd was served with a “notice for compulsory strike off”, although this was rescinded the next day.
The ICO opened its investigation after the regulator became aware of a large number of complaints about the company. It found that Hall & Hanley had used a third party for this work but did not have valid consent as required by law.
Hall & Hanley claimed that consent to send the marketing had been obtained when people subscribed to one of four websites. However, the company was named on only two of these websites’ privacy policies and people were required to give consent to receive marketing from third parties as a condition of subscribing – which is against the law.
The messages generated a total of 1,353 complaints to the 7726 spam reporting service and directly to the ICO. These included: “I have not consented to these types of messages and it is very concerning and worrying how this company got hold of my mobile number.”
“I have not given my company any of my personal information. I have never had any contact with this company. Receiving text messages like this is very concerning as I don’t know what other information they have on me, or where they got this information.”
ICO director of investigations Steve Eckersley said: ”Companies which are responsible for generating these types of marketing messages should make sure they are operating legally or face a potential fine. Hall & Hanley should have known better. The laws on these types of marketing messages are strict because they can be very intrusive.”
The deadline for PPI claims is August 29 this year. The ICO will be hoping it can ape the PPI Terminator ads and declare “hasta la vista” to the cowboys, although don’t bet on it…
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