Telemarketers hit with £70,000 fine for cold-calling pensioners

9000+ calls made between 1am and 6am

A nuisance-calling firm from the West Midlands had been hit with a £70,000 fine for making 'frightening' automated calls to pensioners in the wee hours of the morning with sales pitches for burglar alarms.

In just one day, according to the ICO, Dudley-based Direct Security Marketing Ltd made nearly 40,000 automated calls, with 9,775 being made between 1am and 6am.

The calls were made from a withheld number and received by residents in the early hours of 14 August 2015, who were invited to purchase a security system. The ICO stated it began its investigation after receiving complaints from some of those who had been called by the company.

Andy Curry, the ICO’s group enforcement manager, said: "Elderly people were among those who were left distressed after being woken up in the night by the automated calls."

"Automated calls at any time can leave people feeling unsettled but to receive a call trying to sell you a burglar alarm in the middle of the night must have been very frightening," Curry added.

Despite handling personal data (i.e. phone numbers) the company had not notified the ICO that it was a data controller. This is an offence under Section 17 of the Data Protection Act 1998.

Prosecutions under Section 17 can be carried out at the ICO's request, The Register understands, and Direct Security Marketing was prosecuted at Dudley Magistrates' Court. The company pleaded guilty and was fined £650 last November, also being ordered to pay costs of £492.78, with a £65 victim surcharge.

Direct Security Marketing Ltd was incorporated by one Antonio Daniel Pardo, its sole director, on 1 December 2014, who was also prosecuted alongside his company. He pleaded guilty and was fined £534, ordered to pay £489.08 in costs and a £53 victim surcharge.

According to documents at Companies House, Pardo filed to have Direct Security Marketing struck off the register of active companies in January this year. Its registration will, therefore, expire in April. While the ICO can be a creditor of a liquidated company, that is not the procedure Pardo has filed for. Direct Security Marketing's annual return is overdue and The Register wonders how likely it is that a struck-off company will pay its fine.

The ICO told The Register that recovery of fines was not the primary purpose of its enforcement powers, however, and that the office's commitment was to making sure the nuisance calls stopped. ®

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