Manchester based company fined £250,000 for nuisance calls

By Myles Dacres

A claims management company in Manchester has been fined £250,000 for making millions of nuisance calls

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has fined Reliance Advisory Limited (RAL) £250,000 for breaking electronic marketing law.

The Bury-based company made 15.1 million calls in relation to claims management services such as mis-sold PPI. All the calls, of which 1.1 million connected, were made to people who had not consented to receive them.

The ICO received 85 complaints from members of the public about the persistent calls they were receiving multiple times a day. A number noted the aggressive and rude nature of the callers and highlighted the distress it was causing them.

During the ICO’s investigation, RAL were unable to provide evidence of consent for the majority of calls it made. Where it did provide evidence, for data that it had purchased in the previous 30 days, the consent was found to have not been freely given, specific or informed. RAL also argued that it was not aware of its responsibilities under the law.

The law banning unsolicited calls for direct marketing purposes in relation to claims management services came into force on 8 September 2018. It is contained in regulation 21A of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003.

The Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) give people specific privacy rights in relation to electronic communications. There are specific rules on:

  • marketing calls, emails, texts and faxes;
  • cookies (and similar technologies);
  • keeping communications services secure;
  • customer privacy as regards traffic and location data, itemised billing, line identification, and directory listings.

The ICO has the power under PECR to impose a monetary penalty on a data controller of up to £500,000.

If you as a business need help avoiding fines like these and you would like to know who you can and can’t contact please get in touch with our team today. If you personally receive nuisance calls which are persistent or distressing, you can contact the ICO’s helpline on 0303 123 1113.

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IMPORTANT INFORMATION

We have been advising those people who have contacted us that they should make a complaint to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) using this link https://ico.org.uk/make-a-complaint/nuisance-calls-and-messages/spam-texts-and-nuisance-calls/.  It would be helpful to the ICO if you knew the number that called you, the date and time of the call and what the call seemed to be about.

You might also want to register your phone number with the telephone preference service (TPS), a national suppression service which should cut down calls of this nature as it is not lawful to make unsolicited direct marketing calls to numbers registered on the TPS.  You can register your number here https://www.tpsonline.org.uk/register.

We know that these kind of calls can be distressing and intrusive and you have our sympathy.  Please do not hesitate to contact us if you would like to discuss it with us otherwise we’d encourage you to report it to the ICO as notifying them of this kind of practice enables them to investigate and take enforcement action where necessary.  You can see the action that has been taken by the ICO here https://ico.org.uk/action-weve-taken/enforcement/.

Data Protection People Limited – March 2021