“Do as I say, not as I do”

It is difficult to miss the irony of the ICO’s first-awarded fine for nuisance calls since taking over the Telephone Preference Service (TPS), as reported in our earlier blog in December.

IT Protect Ltd., a Bognor Regis firm in the business of selling a call-blocking device that purportedly stops unwanted marketing calls, was fined £40,000 on 11 January by the ICO for making nuisance calls. After more than 30 complaints were received, the ICO investigated and found that IT Protect Ltd. had been making unsolicited marketing calls for more than a year to people registered with the TPS.

When confronted by the ICO, IT Protect Ltd. attempted to avoid the fine by claiming that it had purchased a list of the phone numbers from another firm, presumably attempting to pass blame on to the makers of the list. However, by law, it is the responsibility of the telephone marketing service to carry out checks and ensure that it is not calling persons registered with the TPS.

The ICO website states that “Companies failing to screen against the TPS, who then call people without consent, can expect enforcement action by the ICO.”

With the transfer of the TPS to the ICO in December, the complaint-handling and enforcement process is now “under one roof,” streamlining the process of tackling nuisance calls and helping the ICO achieve its stated aim “to come down hard on the law breakers and stop nuisance calls.”

Businesses are therefore well advised to properly scrutinise any marketing lists they acquire; otherwise, they may find themselves on the receiving end of an unwelcome call…