The Information Commissioners Office (ICO) has fined a West Midlands based company £80,000 for calling customers registered on a do not call list. Secure Home Systems Ltd called people registered on the Telephone Preference Service over 80,000 times between September and December 2017, which resulted in 268 complaints from consumers.
The ICO began investigating the company after reciving hundreds of complaints from customers registered with the TPS service and following an investigation, found that Secure Home Systems had purchased the data from a third party. The third party had not screened this data against the TPS, the ICO also took issue with the fact the business undertook no due diligence on its data suppliers. Secure Home Systems Ltd did not screen any of the data against the TPS register itself.
268 complaints were made to the TPS, or direct to the commissioner, about unsolicited direct marketing calls made by Secure Home Systems Ltd. All of these complaints were made by individual subscribers who were registered with the TPS.
Some of the complaints received are as follows:
“Claire claimed to be aware of a spate of burglaries in our area and talked about representatives cleared by the police would be visiting our road shortly. There was a silent system to detect theft, fire etc direct to the services. I said are you working for the police and services or the council/government or a company. She said she worked for secured homes. She denied it was not a sales call. So I said we are on the TPS and why are you calling. She apologised and I hung up”.
“She said they were not trying to sell me anything but they were installing crime prevention equipment in the area. Equipment is free but there is a reduced charge of £299 for installation. I asked why they were breaking the law by calling me without my permission – she disappeared!”
TPS Services Richard Kane said: “Anyone undertaking telemarketing expecting to get away with not answering consumer questions about where their data came from is going to struggle. Also, consumers are more educated about data, their rights and the questions to ask nowadays so claiming that things like TPS screening is nothing to do with you simple won’t wash. Read the latest ICO Guidance on Direct Marketing. Although it’s 58 pages long, it’s not small print so it’s quite readable. Whether you’ll understand it all or not is another issue, but you should at least try. You can always get answers to the aspects you’re not sure about either directly from the ICO, a compliance company or in some cases by talking to other businesses who also do telemarketing.”
What to do if you receive a nuisance call.
People who receive nuisance marketing calls, emails and texts is to ask the company to remove their details from their lists, read the small print and be careful about ticking boxes which could give them consent to contact you. People can also report cold calls or texts that either played a recorded voice message or from a real person, to the ICO. The ICO will use the information you provide to investigate and take action against companies responsible.
What is a nuisance call ?
A nuisance call or cold-call is an unsolicited telephone call from a business seeking to attract new customers. Cold Calling is not illegal, however there are restrictions on how and when a marketing cold-call should be made. The new GDPR regulations along with the ICO’s Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations tighten up these restrictions, and as from 25 May 2018, any organisation involved in cold calling will have to abide by strict guidelines or face hefty fines. The only instance where you can be lawfully cold-called is if you have given consent before being contacted.
In addition, organisations cannot call numbers that are registered with the TPS. The TPS (Telephone Preference Service) is a free service. It is the official opt out register on which you can record your preference not to receive unsolicited sales or marketing calls. It is forbidden for organisations to make telephone contact with anyone registered on the TPS database.
To register with the TPS follow this https://www.tpsonline.org.uk/tps/number_type.html
You can also log a complaint with the ICO here: https://ico.org.uk/make-a-complaint/nuisance-calls-and-messages/