The Information Commissioner’s Office is continuing its crackdown on rogue telemarketing companies with Manchester firm Oaklands Assist UK the latest to feel the wrath of the regulator after being fined £150,000 for making tens of thousands of direct marketing calls to people registered with the Telephone Preference Service.
Set up in March 2016 by John Percival (who left the business five months later), according to Companies House there is a so-called “proposal to strike off”. However, it is not known whether this has been initiated by the firm’s sole director – named as Adrian Wayte – or Companies House for non-filling of annual returns.
Under planned Government legislation, Wayte would also be facing a personal fine of up to £500,000, but the law has yet to be passed.
The company first came to the ICO’s attention in June 2017 when it was identified as one of its most complained about organisations during that month.
During the ICO’s investigation, triggered by 59 complaints, Oaklands Assist ignored requests for information for six months – responding only when the ICO threatened criminal proceedings – and claimed it held “very little” information.
This included having no record of the numbers dialled, the volumes of calls made, details of where it got the data, or any due diligence or contracts with third parties.
However, the ICO eventually discovered that the firm had made 63,724 calls over a two month period from May to July 2017 to people who were registered with the TPS, in breach of PECR legislation.
One complainant said: “[The] caller was extremely abusive when asked how they got our details. Used profane language when hanging up. The same number had also called on numerous other occasions, sometimes just a silent call, and then ring back within half an hour.”
Another added: “I was on hands-free with my children in the car and although I was keeping my cool and asking him to remove my details, he was angry and aggressive – not good for my kids to hear which is why I hung up. Sick of getting these calls.”
ICO director of investigations Steve Eckersley said: “Companies that operate in this way are causing distress and offence to huge numbers of people who just don’t want these calls. Our advice for organisations is quite clear: they must not call people registered on the TPS and, where we see this happening, we will investigate and take enforcement action where necessary.”
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