Three whacked as ICO rogue call crackdown continues

cold calls 1The Information Commissioner’s Office’s war on illegal marketing has claimed three more scalps – and sparked fines totalling £170,000 – as the regulator adds its support to Government plans to outlaw financial services firms from making unsolicited calls.

The three cases, which date back to 2021 and 2022, all fall under the Privacy & Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR).

First in the dock is debt management company Digivo Media, which traded as Rid My Debt. It sent 415,000 text messages, which were delivered, from March 24 2021 to September 7 2021, encouraging consumers to get “free advice” or a “free pack” by visiting the Rid My Debt website.

However, these messages were sent without valid consent, which is a breach of the law and earned the company a £50,000 fine.

Next up is MCP Online, which between January 1 2022 and September 28 2022, made 20,939 unsolicited direct marketing calls about pensions to people who were registered with the Telephone Preference Service.

While calls to people on the TPS has been illegal for years, MCP Online also managed to fall foul of the ban on pensions cold calling, which came into force in January 2019 through a tweak to PECR. It has been fined £55,000.

Finally, the third company to be fined is Argentum Data Solutions, a data processing and hosting provider for organisations to send direct marketing SMS messages.

Argentum has been fined £65,000 for both sending and allowing third parties to send more than 2.3 million direct marketing text messages without valid consent. These messages promoted a range of services including car finance compensation claims, boiler replacement schemes and housing repairs.

None of the messages identified the sender or gave people the opportunity to opt out of future marketing communications, which is also a breach of PECR.

ICO head of investigations Andy Curry said: “We’re working to stop these unscrupulous companies who use predatory marketing communications to target people who are, or who may be, at the most risk of harm.

“The [victims] could be your elderly parents, grandparents or even a neighbour who might have dementia and the last thing they need is a barrage of unwanted text messages or nuisance calls.

“High-pressured sales calls pushing financial products can cause real distress and harm to the people on the receiving end. That’s why we support the Government’s recent consultation calling for a ban on cold calling for consumer financial services and products, and believe this could help reduce the amount of these predatory marketing calls.”

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