UK data watchdog whacks £300k fine on biz that made 9 million nuisance calls

Scouse firm bought data without checking permissions

Man hangs up desk phone after a clearly irritating call. Photo by Shutterstock

A Liverpudlian business was today slapped with a £300,000 fine for making 8.7 million nuisance calls.

The Information Commissioner’s Office said Holmes Financial Solutions had paid “no heed” to telephone marketing laws or to the distress such calls can cause.

The biz, which offers services like debt management, was found to have made millions of unsolicited automated calls primarily promoting PPI compensation.

According to the ICO, 8,792,907 automated calls were answered by subscribers, who had not given their prior consent to being contacted.

However, the ICO noted as an aggravating factor in choosing the size of the fine that the biz had used the DXI dialling platform to make many more calls. Information from DXI showed that the biz had used the platform to make 27 million automated direct marketing calls between October 2015 and July 2016.

Under the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations, such automated marketing calls can only be made to people who have previously told the caller that they consent to such communication.

That consent has to be given freely, and be specific and informed - so simply telling someone their details will be shared with unspecified third parties doesn’t cut the mustard.

The ICO pointed out that organisations that buy marketing lists from third parties “must make rigorous checks” to ensure that data is being fairly and lawfully, with the right consent.

Holmes Financial Services, however, relied on verbal assurances from its data dealers, which the commissioner said could not be considered “sufficient due diligence”.

ICO head of enforcement Steve Eckersley said: “The ICO will not tolerate companies who blatantly disregard the law and Holmes Financial Solutions Ltd has paid the price for their negligence. ®

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