The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has issued fines totalling £590,000 to five companies for collectively making 1.9 million unwanted marketing calls which targeted the elderly and people with vulnerabilities.
This latest action is part of a wider crackdown to tackle rogue companies using pressurised sales techniques to sell insurance for white goods, such as washing machines and fridges, and other household appliances, including TVs.
£1.45 million in fines have now been issued by the ICO since October 2021 to 16 companies for making illegal, unwanted marketing calls, many to people who had taken steps to block nuisance calls by registering with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS). The fines resulted from detailed investigations by the ICO, assisted by intelligence from National Trading Standards
The companies often target older people and people with vulnerabilities, and in most instances, people who already had or did not need the service.
“We’ve heard harrowing stories of people being hounded with these nuisance calls, and feeling forced into handing over bank details for unwanted and unnecessary insurance. We’re working to protect people who are being deliberately targeted because they’re seen as easy pickings by unscrupulous cold callers.”
- Andy Curry, Head of ICO Investigations
Jonathan Young’s parents made payments totalling more than £2,000 to around a dozen companies after receiving marketing calls for insurance policies that they didn’t need. Mr Young tracked the payments through his parents’ bank statements and spent months trying to recover the money. The ICO has today fined two of those companies as part of the latest round of its action.
“Despite opting out of receiving marketing calls, my parents were bombarded by calls from companies selling insurance products. They were often left confused about who was calling them and high-pressure sales tactics led to them paying thousands of pounds for policies they didn’t need or really want.
“During one call, I believe my mother may have been coerced into making a payment using my father’s debit card while he was asleep. Companies should not be targeting elderly people and those with vulnerabilities in this way and I am grateful to the ICO for its continuing action to help prevent distress to other families.”
It is against the law to make a live marketing call to anyone who is registered with the TPS, unless the individual has informed the specific organisation that they do not object to receiving calls from them.
“Registering with the TPS makes it illegal for companies to call you without your consent. We’d encourage anyone who wants to block unsolicited marketing calls, to either a land line or mobile phone, to sign up to this free service. Then, if you or your loved one is on the receiving end of this kind of call, contact the ICO so we can investigate.”
Register a landline or mobile phone for free to block unwanted marketing calls by visiting the Telephone Preference Service (tpsonline.org.uk).
The latest five companies to be issued fines are:
- SGS Home Protect Ltd fined £70,000 and issued an enforcement notice for making 24,241 calls to TPS registered numbers
- Cover Appliance Ltd fined £200,000 and issued an enforcement notice for making 511,499 calls to TPS registered numbers
- F12 Management Ltd fined £200,000 and issued an enforcement notice for making 1,346,019 calls to TPS registered numbers
- House Hold Appliances 247 Ltd fined £55,000 and issued an enforcement notice for making 19,069 calls to TPS registered numbers
- RHAP Ltd fined £65,000 and issued an enforcement notice for making 15,288 calls to TPS registered numbers.
Notes to editors
- The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is the UK’s independent regulator for data protection and information rights law, upholding information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals.
- The ICO has specific responsibilities set out in the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA2018), the United Kingdom General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR), the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA), Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR), Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003 (PECR) and a further five acts and regulations.
- The ICO can take action to address and change the behaviour of organisations and individuals that collect, use, and keep personal information. This includes criminal prosecution, non-criminal enforcement and audit.
- To report a concern to the ICO telephone call our helpline on 0303 123 1113, or go to ico.org.uk/concerns.