Five businesses have been fined a total of £435,000 (about $529,000) by Britain’s data watchdog after it was discovered that they made over half a million marketing calls to customers who had registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS).
Businesses are not allowed to call TPS subscribers live for marketing purposes in accordance with local rules.
Applianceservices UK Ltd (AUKL), Boiler Cover Breakdown Ltd (BCBL), Boiler Breakdown Ltd (BBL), Repair Plans UK Ltd (RPUK), and Utility Guard Ltd. are among the violators, according to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) (UGL).
Andy Curry, head of ICO investigations, said: “We will not stop investigating and taking robust action against companies, to protect people and especially the vulnerable, where we find blatant disregard for the law.”
The probe by the team at the ICO found, in certain instances, the companies were homing in on specific demographics, namely homeowners aged 60 and over.
AUKL UK, a Brighton-based company, called TPS users 99,313 times between the beginning of January 2021 and the middle of June of that same year without their consent. It received an £85,000 ($103,000) penalties.
The Financial Conduct Authority, according to the ICO, was how it learned about the company, and it “appeared” to utilise coercive techniques to obtain payment card details. One caller had dementia, and another had diminished capacity as a result of a stroke.
RPUK, which has its headquarters in Brighton as well, made 21,347 marketing calls during the period ending on September 7th. According to the ICO, it specifically purchased data on people 60 and older and used false and deceptive statements when making marketing calls.
The ICO found one incident in which RPUK had needlessly taken £180 from a person’s bank account. It was fined £70,000 and issued with an enforcement notice, and has 30 days to comply.
BCBL made 9,075 marketing calls between January and August 2020, and BBL made 348,724 nuisance calls, the ICO claimed. Both companies are registered at the same address, share the same directors and the phone lines are rented by one company and used by the two companies.
The ICO claimed both were “specifically” targeting vulnerable people, and fined BCBL £120,000 (c $146,000) and BBL £140,000 (c $170,000). It issued them with an enforcement notice. The two businesses have appealed the monetary value of the penalty notices.
The final name in the rogues gallery is UGL, situated in Chichester, West Sussex. The ICO said it made 1,932 calls between August 2020 and July 2021. UGL did not have a TPS license and took money from someone with dementia. It showed a “willful disregard” for the law, and was fined £20,000 and must comply with the enforcement notice.
“The pressure tactics, and sometimes false or misleading statements these companies used were completely unacceptable. To be made to feel as though you have to hand over your bank details simply to get someone off the phone is nothing short of shameful, and that is why we have taken action against these companies,” said Curry.
Remember, CyberSecurity Starts With You!
- Globally, 30,000 websites are hacked daily.
- 64% of companies worldwide have experienced at least one form of a cyber attack.
- There were 20M breached records in March 2021.
- In 2020, ransomware cases grew by 150%.
- Email is responsible for around 94% of all malware.
- Every 39 seconds, there is a new attack somewhere on the web.
- An average of around 24,000 malicious mobile apps are blocked daily on the internet.
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