Users shop cold-calling telco to ICO: 'She said she was from Openreach'

Dartford-based True Telecom fined £85,000

A Dartford-based telco has been handed an £85,000 fine for two years’ of nuisance and "misleading" calls - despite a warning from the UK’s data protection watchdog.

The Information Commissioner’s Office stepped in to investigate True Telecom - which offers broadband and call services - after receiving 201 complaints about unsolicited marketing calls between April 2015 and April 2017.

All the people who received the calls from True Telecom were registered on opt-out database the Telephone Preference Service.

Some of them also complained that the calls - from a withheld number - “have the impression that they were calling from BT Openreach”, the ICO said (PDF).

“She said she was from Openreach and that they could offer me a cheaper deal than I was paying. Got very aggressive when I refused to give bank details,” one recipient told the watchdog.

Such activity would be a breach of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulation, and the ICO wrote to True Telecom in May 2016 to warn that it risked a fine if it continued.

Nevertheless, it continued and has now ended up slapped with the £85,000 fine - although it’s unclear whether the latest decision will make it change its ways, as the firm has prior form when it comes to dodgy data and privacy practices.

Along with plenty of disgruntled people popping up on forums and papers across the web, True Telecom has had a couple of run-ins with the ICO before.

Back in August 2014, True Telecom was one of a number of organisations the ICO contacted as part of a drive to encourage firms with a small number of complaints from TPS subscribers to address the issue, without formal enforcement. Clearly, that warning went unheeded.

And in March 2017, it was prosecuted for failing to register as a data controller under the Data Protection Act, again after having been advised that it needed one.

Elsewhere, communications regulator Ofcom last month completed an investigation into the firm, which concluded that there were "reasonable grounds" to believe True Telecom engaged in a mis-selling practice known as "slamming" - where a phone service is charged without consent.

Ofcom added there was evidence that True Telecom had contravened another communications reg by "entering customers into contracts that exceeded 24 months and including terms requiring them to pay early termination charges for the period following the initial commitment period".

True Telecom did not immediately respond to a request for comment. ®

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